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Master motivator Nehlen on the pandemic: ‘We can whip this thing’

Master motivator Nehlen on the pandemic: ‘We can whip this thing’

During this troubling time of the coronavirus pandemic, it can be tough to keep the ol’ spirits up.

There’s the uneasiness of going to the store or pharmacy. (“Hey bud, six feet!”) There’s the cabin fever of staying home. (I can only walk the dog so many times, folks.)

Yet we know what we must do. Physical distancing. (More accurate than social distancing, don’t you think?) Hand washing. Be smart.

But yeah, the head can drop.

Rather than allow it to stay so, though, today I called probably the best motivator I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around: College Football Hall of Fame coach Don Nehlen.

Now 84 years young, Nehlen lives in Morgantown. And he, like all of us, are wrestling with the pandemic.

“It just blows you away,” Nehlen said on Wednesday. “You don’t know what to do. And having no sports just kills ya.”

Spoken like a true ball coach.

Yet I asked the former WVU football coach what he said to the troops when it was gloomy. I asked what he’d say now to motivate us in this time of need.

As was always the case, Coach came through.

“I always told my team, ‘We’re never as good as we think and we’re never as bad as we think,’” Nehlen said. “This mess we’re in is bad, but it could be worse.”

He paused and then restarted.

“I always told my team if 100 guys get together and go in one direction – and no one cares who gets the credit – we can do anything,” Nehlen said.

“Same way with this country. If we all hang together and go in one direction – and don’t fight each other – we’ll come out the other end stronger.”

He continued.

“We can’t have half of the people saying this and the other half saying that and the young people running around and disobeying what the government says. Just do what they ask, wash your hands and do what you’re supposed to do.

“If we do that, we’ll whip this thing, the market will come back and we’ll have a great economy.”

Spoken like a true leader. And while on the subject, I asked how our president should handle the situation.

“Well,” he chuckled, “It’s a lot easier to motivate 100 than 340 million.”

Nehlen said he’s glad President Trump is making frequent televised appearances. That helps, he said. But he also offered this advice.

“One thing I know,” Nehlen said, “is whenever you lead, you’ve got to lead from a position of strength and positivity. If you get in front of your team and don’t know what you’re talking about and don’t have any enthusiasm, they know it in a minute. Same way with our country. If the president gets up and doesn’t know what he’s talking about, everybody knows it in a minute. That’s why he has to have good people around him.”

We can do this, Nehlen said.

We will do this.

“You’ve got to be optimistic,” said the coach. “There’s no question about it. The American people can handle this.”

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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.

 

 

 

 

My plea in this new world without sports

My plea in this new world without sports

Last Monday, I wrote in this space about WVU’s basketball team. Remember? Just seven days ago, the Mountaineers were poised to take on Oklahoma in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. They stood at 21-10 and were a lock for the NCAA tournament. Until, that is, the coronavirus put a headlock on our… Continue Reading

WVU’s hoops standing; Noah Adams; Kenny Robinson

WVU’s hoops standing; Noah Adams; Kenny Robinson

Ye olde notebook: Let’s face it, February was the lion and March the lamb – so far — for the WVU men’s basketball team. In March, the Mountaineers have defeated Iowa State on the road and, Saturday, No. 4 Baylor at the Coliseum. Oh, and the latter was quite engaging, especially for Ohio Valley product… Continue Reading

The (sometimes tortuous) life that is a Mountaineer fan

The (sometimes tortuous) life that is a Mountaineer fan

The text hit my phone at 5:12 p.m. Tuesday. “Mitch if we lose tonight – we’ll not win Saturday – we’ll not be in the [NCAA] tourney! Nor do we deserve to be!” I can’t tell you how many messages like that I’ve received through my life, most before my move to Wheelhouse Creative. My… Continue Reading

A WVU wrestling spark — along with a smile

A WVU wrestling spark — along with a smile

The communication from WVU brought forth a smile. Redshirt sophomore Noah Adams of the Mountaineer wrestling team finished the regular season on Sunday with a 29-0 record, even though West Virginia’s team lost to Big 12 affiliate Utah Valley at the Coliseum. Adams, you see, is a spark for WVU coach Tim Flynn. A much-needed… Continue Reading

Is WVU’s basketball team being respected — or disrespected?

Is WVU’s basketball team being respected — or disrespected?

When the national poll rankings came out today, Monday, Feb. 17, WVU fell among men’s college basketball teams to No. 17, according to the writers (A.P.), and to No. 18, according to the coaches (USA Today). A friend wrote on Twitter that shows national respect for the Mountaineers. Believe it or not, though, it really… Continue Reading

Big 12, Mountain State and league news

Big 12, Mountain State and league news

I always found spring conference meetings mostly overlooked in regard to college athletics reporting. It’s shocking, I know, because sports writers should be dashing to cover a bunch of old men (mostly) burning through universities’ cash at ritzy places like Scottsdale, Arizona, right? Who wouldn’t want to lurk about hotel lobbies hoping for morsels of… Continue Reading

The Mountaineer team to watch

The Mountaineer team to watch

The breaking news out of Morgantown on Monday was men’s basketball player Sagaba Konate submitted his name for the 2019 NBA Draft and plans to sign with an agent. While new rules say Konate could still return to WVU if not drafted, there is an addendum. According to a contacted Mountaineer representative, Konate can’t return… Continue Reading

Holgorsen comments perplexing

Holgorsen comments perplexing

When I moved from my position as a sports writer at the Charleston Gazette-Mail to Wheelhouse Creative, I tried to do so in a respectful way. I thanked my former co-workers, readers and those that allowed me to tell their stories. I then turned toward my exciting new challenge. I imagine most of you would… Continue Reading

Much is blooming for the Big 12

I remember it well. Because I was smack in the middle of the hailstorm. In my prior life, I covered West Virginia University sports and, by extension, the Big 12, the league in which the Mountaineers reside. And, oh, what a hot mess covering the latter was for a while. Just for giggles, I Googled… Continue Reading

Finding WVU football nuggets

Finding WVU football nuggets

OK, I can breathe a little. My bracket of integrity (the one everything is riding on) has steadied. All that’s left is for Tennessee to stun the world and claim an NCAA men’s championship. (Yes, I really picked the Vols.) For now, though, the storm that is March Madness has calmed. Which gave me a… Continue Reading

WVU hoops in the CBI? Yes siree Bob

WVU hoops in the CBI? Yes siree Bob

At first I thought it preposterous. Surely WVU coach Bob Huggins wanted this season over as quickly as possible. The Mountaineers are 14-20. Players were sent packing. There would be no NCAA tournament. There would be no NIT. Heck, there would be no CIT. Pay to play in the College Basketball Invitational? Against Grand Canyon?… Continue Reading

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