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MCGILL: From checkerboard to field, competitiveness drives Selby

Michael Selby.
Sept. 8, 2016

By Chuck McGill

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.Michael Selby and his father, also named Michael, sat on opposite sides of a jumbo hand-woven rug checkboard table inside the restaurant Cracker Barrel. What happened next can partially explain why the younger of the two Selbys, a 6-foot-2, 296-pound senior offensive lineman, is one of the team captains for Marshall’s season opener against Morgan State this Saturday.

Selby Jr. lost and fumed.

“I’m a sore loser,” he said.

Selby Sr. won and taunted.

“Michael hates to lose – he really, really hates it,” Selby Sr. said of his son.

And then they left the restaurant, stopped at Wal-Mart, bought their own Checkers set and returned to a hotel to continue the rivalry.

I did beat him,” Selby Jr. said. “I beat him in the hotel room, if he has anything to say about that.”

Dad disagrees.



“He almost got me, but he didn’t,” Selby Sr. said. “He’s never beat me. Never.”

This is the way it has always been for the Selbys, and the father and son credit their competitiveness for young Selby’s success.

“We started playing and I lost that game, and it started a big competition,” Selby Jr. said. “Everything is a competition in my family. It’s helped me with football – just being competitive.”

The Selby family can spin anything into an event with bragging rights as the ultimate prize. Who can eat the hottest pepper? Who can eat the most peppers? Who can throw the hardest? Who can hold a mint in their mouth the longest without it dissolving?

“Those are some of the best memories I have,” Selby Sr. said.

While other kids were training by repetition, Michael Selby was preparing for his collegiate football career with competition. It permeates every aspect of his life, and it shows on the football field, where Selby has started 27 games and landed on the Conference USA preseason all-conference team. Marshall head coach Doc Holliday named Selby one of the four captains for this Saturday’s season opener, which kicks off at precisely 6:04 p.m.

Only one other Herd football player, offense or defense or special teams, has more than 13 career starts (right tackle Clint Van Horn has 25). Selby will line up next to Van Horn at right guard, and he knows he’ll have to carry a physical and leadership load.

In the offseason, Selby prepared for his senior season by adding seven pounds to his frame. His weight numbers jumped accordingly. He added 20 pounds to his bench press and 35 pounds on the power clean. He can now do six more repetitions at 225 pounds (that figure jumped from 28 in February to 34 in July). He added 40 pounds to his squat, an inch to his vertical jump and 3.5 inches to his broad jump.

The Herd’s Selby gives maximum effort – whether he is trying to push weight for football or double jump a family member in Checkers.

“I think that’s what gives him that edge,” Selby Sr. said. “That do-or-die mentality. That competitiveness, what’s inside him, has definitely helped him.

“He will not give up.”