The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

June 28, 2014

‘Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer’: PHOTOS

Jozwiak retains strong ties with WVU and state though 24th annual celebrity golf classic

MORGANTOWN — “Once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer.”

That ideal was present in abundance Friday at the 24th annual Brian Jozwiak Pepsi Celebrity Golf Classic at Lakeview.

“Oh, heck yes,” said Jozwiak, a consensus All-America offensive tackle at West Virginia University in 1985 and the seventh player taken in the NFL draft, by the Kansas City Chiefs, the following year. “You know that.”

Jozwiak, a Baltimore-area native who has taught and coached in Florida for the past several years, built strong ties to the area, including WVU Children’s Hospital, playing for coach Don Nehlen from 1982-85. Raising funds for the hospital has always been an objective for the tournament, held at Lakeview for the first time after previous stops at Green Hills in Marion County and Bel Meadow in Harrison County.

“This is kind of neat, to be able to be here at Lakeview,” Jozwiak said. “It’s kind of a unique experience. We’ve never played it up here in Morgantown. That’s where Children’s Hospital is.

“As Mountaineers, we stayed out here before games. It’s kind of cool to bring it to Morgantown after 24 years. It’s kind of neat. It’s really exciting.”

Teams fielded by John Wassick and Todd Kiger have competed in the six-player, best-ball event since its inception. Numerous current and former WVU players and coaches were part of Friday’s play, as well as Fairmont State football coach Jason Woodman and assistant Ryan Dumont.

The Buddy Walk/National Down Syndrome Society was also a part of this year’s tournament.

The causes are huge part of why the Jozwiak tournament is closing in on its silver anniversary.

“Coach Nehlen started the association with the kids and going and seeing those kids,” Jozwiak said. “That’s really what came down. We just kept the tradition going.”

Brad Hunt, a Ripley native and WVU friend of Jozwiak’s who was a defensive tackle for the Mountaineers from 1984-87, has never missed an opportunity to play in the tournament.

“It’s for a great cause, and Brian has been a champion of this cause for 24 straight years,” Hunt said. “A lot of things like this fizzle out over time. This hasn’t. It’s getting better and stronger. ... I’m happy to be part of it and proud to call Brian my friend.”

Nehlen, whose table at lunch included former quarterback Major Harris, enjoys the opportunity to spend some time with his former players.

“That’s the name of the game,” the retired Hall of Fame coach said. “To be honest, I don’t even remember the wins and the losses, but you remember all these guys.”

When Nehlen retired in 2000, his program had raised more than half a million dollars for WVU Children’s Hospital. Coaches Rich Rodriguez, Bill Stewart and Dana Holgorsen remained committed.

“Brian really took off with this,” Nehlen said. “He’s the catalyst. He loved those kids. Brian, I always thought, was the Jolly Green Giant, a great big guy, but everybody loved him. He has this personality. If you don’t like Brian, you’ve got a problem. That’s the way he was with those kids. He loved going over there on Fridays.”

Email Cliff Nichols at cnichols@timeswv.com.

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