The Times West Virginian

Sports

July 12, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN: Van Halanger says Bowden changed his life

MORGANTOWN — First of all, I’d like to publicly thank Dave Van Halanger for verbally “writing” this column.

It’s the product of perhaps the most inspiring interview I’ve had via telephone in going on 68 years or so as a sports reporter.

Van Halanger, who turns 60 in October, was a great offensive tackle at West Virginia University from 1973-75 under Bobby Bowden. He also will be remembered as the organizer of WVU’s first formal strength and conditioning program.

After a second stint at Florida State, the Turtle Creek, Pa., native is the director of player welfare at the University of Georgia. He has filled that position since January 2011.

This is what the 6-foot-6, 235-pound Van Halanger had to say about his high school and WVU years:

“Playing football for Bobby Bowden changed my life. I was from the Pittsburgh area, and I didn’t know a whole lot about what life was really all about.

“’I was just there to play football! Period!

“Coach Bowden gave you a picture that there was a big world up there and that God played a big part in it.

“And to understand what it was all about, you needed to understand how life works. That’s what Bobby Bowden taught me.

“That’s my relationship with God. How to treat people. How to treat women — and everything. Just everything.

“Coach Bowden was the best even then.”

Van Halanger still retains a very close relationship with the legendary Bowden and his son Tommy, with whom he became best friends while at West Virginia.

“Coach Bobby Bowden is just a wonderful man. He has made so much happen for me,” he exclaimed.

Van Halanger recalled, “When I was in high school, I had a coach tell me how bad I was. ‘You’re trouble,’ he’d tell me. ‘I can’t stand you.’

“I can still see his big face in my big face yelling at me.’”

He continued, “When I went to West Virginia, after a year at prep school, Bobby Bowden said, ‘David, you’re going to be a great player (for three years at offensive tackle). I can see that.’ And he painted a picture of what I could be.”

As a result, every day since that, young Van Halanger worked as hard as possible not to disappoint his beloved head coach, now retired as the nation’s all-time wins leader.

Van Halanger dearly wanted to measure up to Bowden’s expectations – and did as a Mountaineer standout.

“Wow! He did so many great things for me,” Van Halanger reiterated.

He admittedly enjoyed his years as a player, as an assistant coach for Frank Cignetti and as a noted strength/conditioning pioneer.

Georgia couldn’t have a better man as director of player welfare with his knowledge and experiences.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Kicker sees second chances after gondola accident

    Maikon Bonani knows all about second chances.
    The native of Brazil is back with the Titans for a second year with the kicker job wide open for the taking, and he’s the only guy in training camp with any NFL experience if kicking in a preseason game counts.

    August 1, 2014

  • Steelers sign Suisham through 2018 season

    Shaun Suisham doesn’t seem to mind kicking at Heinz Field.

    August 1, 2014

  • A healthy Trickett gives WVU chance to win

    You might recall that Pat White’s career as West Virginia quarterback began when Adam Bednarik was injured in the Louisville game of White’s freshman year, opening the door for him to come on and lead one of the greatest comebacks in school history.

    August 1, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Lingering injury keeps Barber out as season begins

    He was off on the sidelines on the first day of practice, where he’ll be for quite a while now, wearing the red jersey that signifies a player is unable to practice due to injury.

    August 1, 2014

  • Post 17 makes short work of Wheeling to advance to nightcap

    Post 17 Fairmont scattered 16 hits and plated double-digit runs in a 10-2 rout of Post 1 Wheeling Friday afternoon at Hawley Field.

    August 1, 2014

  • WVU #6 SHORTS -TS.jpg WVU opens practice with different feel: VIDEOS AND PHOTOS

    West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen was happy with his team’s first practice of the 2014 season.
    Of course, he would note, “Everybody in the country has a good first day.”
    But somehow, this was different.
    Very different.

    August 1, 2014 9 Photos

  • Post 17 #18-Post 29 catche copy.jpg Post 17 picks up much-needed win over Elkins

    After a rather sloppy Area tournament, Post 17 Fairmont managed to turn things around Thursday afternoon at Hawley Field in Morgantown, staying alive with a 4-2 win over Elkins in the American Legion state baseball tournament.
    While it’s usually hitting that gets Fairmont by, Thursday it was the pitching and the defense.

    August 1, 2014 5 Photos

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Social media adds another thing to watch for coaches

    As someone who has gotten himself in enough hot water with a misplaced Tweet, when West Virginia University quarterback Clint Trickett hit the send button on July 17 sending out to the cyberworld what should have remained there with him on the couch on which he was sitting, I could feel his pain.

    August 1, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Bobby Bowden won the bad-and-good battle with rival Lou Holtz

    The recent announcement that West Virginia University is resuming a football relationship with North Carolina State triggered a most memorable bad-news, good-news battle.
    It was between two legendary coaches, WVU’s Bobby Bowden and N.C. State’s Lou Holtz back there in the 1970s.

    August 1, 2014

  • WVU basketball non-conference schedule released

    After playing challenging schedules along with the tough Big 12 road, West Virginia University has backed off some this season on its non-conference schedule that was released Thursday.
    West Virginia is coming off a 17-16 season in which it failed to reach the NCAA Tournament and lost to Georgetown in the first round of the NIT.

    August 1, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
Auto Racing Breaking News
Auto Racing Standings