By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
It came along too late to do me any good, but today I want to offer a very warm thank you to Jarrod West, the one-time West Virginia University basketball hero.
Normally, when West is given thanks it is for the final second prayer of a shot that he hit in the second round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament that lifted the Mountaineers past Cincinnati and Kenyon Martin, a team coached by Bob Huggins that was revisited recently by ROOT Sports.
But, as dramatic and heroic as that moment was in WVU history, it was something West put on Facebook a week back that hit home and needs to be spread far further than it reached with just his followers.
Too often those who become involved in sports, be it playing, coaching, even writing about it, forget what is really important in life, and so it was with West, without even realizing it. A warm, caring person who had devoted himself to area youth, it took an injury to drag him back into realizing that his dedication had led him down a path he did want to follow.
In most cases, I would have sat down and spoke with him about it, but after reading his posting I realized there was no way I could create any more impact than he had created, so with some minor editing the heart of is essay is repeated here
“Normally, my wife, Amber, is on here but 2nite it is me, Jarrod West. For the last seven years I have worked seven days a week and I have formed a second family, my Hoop Skillz family. I have basketball training every weekend.
“Ten weeks ago I tore my MCL and my oldest son, little Jarrod, asked me to start coming to his AAU Tournaments. It had never crossed my mind that while I’ve been making other kids better, I’ve been missing my kids play, so I made a tough decision and I took some time away from my Hoop Skillz family. I must admit that while I miss my Hoop Skillz, these past 10 weeks have been the best times of my marital life.
“My wife and I have become so much closer because we spend way more time together and I’m enjoying the little things in life.
“Most importantly, I’m enjoying my family.
“Today was great, I watched Jaidyn, my youngest son, play 3 games earlier. Then tonight me and my boys just got home — I know, midnight on a school night, but there’s a good reason. We were playing basketball and I just experienced one of the best two hours of my life.
“Along with my best friend, Billy Childers, and lil D Rock (Dahrius Nunn), me and little Jarrod played basketball together and we won 6 games in a row vs. some of the best players to play in Harrison County.
“Yep, we held court all night. It was a great experience to see him maturing and growing as a person and as a player right before my eyes. I’m truly blessed. God is good. I just wanted to share this with everyone because I’m very happy right now.”
Those who know Jarrod West know how fine a person he is and how he has dedicated himself to the youth of the area as a coach and teacher of sports and of living life the right way.
They also know just how much his own children have meant to him, and how hard the realization of what he had been missing out in his own life on had to have hit him.
But that Jarrod West, West Virginia basketball folk hero, was willing to not only admit to this inadvertent misstep in order to offer a warning to others that even when you are trying to do good, when the path you have elected to follow is a righteous one, you can never forget that it is family that comes first.
Your strength, your ultimate satisfaction is found within your children. Their tiniest successes mean far more to you than your own greatest successes … each of West’s son’s baskets in those pickup games meant more than did the Cincinnati game-winner, for they were family.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.