MCGILL: Marshall Welcomes Elkview, DuPont for Historic Indoor Football Game
The Word on the Herd -- Oct. 6, 2016
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – History will be made this Saturday inside the Chris Cline Athletic Facility at Marshall University.
And for good reason.
Elkview Middle School, with players and their families still recovering from June’s devastating floods, will host DuPont Middle School in an official football game inside the $35 million indoor facility – the first football game played in the two-year-old state-of-the-art building.
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. between the Kanawha County opponents. All revenues generated from the event will aid flood victims and recovery efforts.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Elkview athletic director Eddie Gray. “With all that these kids and families have been through, we thought it would help kind of take their minds off what happened.
“We’re excited to come down. Everybody’s excited.”
The Marshall athletic department has been heavily involved with relief and assistance since the floods hit West Virginia on June 23, claiming 23 lives statewide. Elk River, which runs past Elkview Middle School, rose to an all-time high of 33.37 feet as more than 10 inches of rain fell in a 12-hour period.
Mike Hamrick, who is in his eighth year as Marshall’s athletic director, is a Clendenin native and Herbert Hoover High School graduate, so the floods and the aftermath struck him particularly hard. He worked to provide new football cleats, along with various other types of athletic equipment, to the programs at Clay County High School, Herbert Hoover and Elkview Middle School.
In the week after the flooding, Hamrick and football coach Doc Holliday arrived to Elkview Baptist Church accompanied by a 48-foot equipment truck full of supplies, which were collected over a two-day period in Huntington and then delivered to the flood-ravaged region.
The Marshall volleyball team helped load the equipment truck and later visited to assist with cleanup efforts in Greenbrier County. The men’s basketball team cleaned the mud off of pews and floors in churches days after the flooding struck.
“This is personal for me and I know the good people from the Elk River area are still struggling to clean up and rebuild their lives,” Hamrick said. “The floods happened months ago but there are a lot of families who are in need and who are trying to rebuild their homes.
“I don’t want people to forget there are still needs and still people who need our help. But this is also a chance to open our doors at Marshall University and give people a Saturday off to watch a football game in our facility and make some memories.”
Gray agreed with Hamrick. There is so much work to be done before normalcy returns to the Elk River region.
“There’s some areas that are still pretty bad,” Gray said, “and there’s still some people trying to get work done to their homes.”
The idea for the game came from Hamrick when he visited the flood-stricken areas in June. It seemed unlikely the schools could have their playing fields ready for fall competition, so Hamrick offered the Herd’s 102,000-square foot facility as an alternative.
“Marshall has been super great to us as far as helping with equipment and everything,” Gray said. “Mr. Hamrick has been great. At the time, when they were delivering supplies, our fields had not been cleared so he made the offer.
“I took it back to my principal and we decided it would be awesome for our kids.”
As Elkview whipped the playing fields into shape, DuPont’s athletic director called and wondered if the game at Marshall was going to happen after all. Gray confirmed they were good to go.
“He was like, ‘I’m so glad – I can’t imagine going in there and telling my team they can’t play down there,’” Gray recalled. “DuPont is excited and we’re excited. We appreciate everything Marshall has done for us. I think it’s a good thing to help get our mind off everything that’s happened in the past.”
Admission is $5 for adults and $4 for students and senior citizens. The game is open to the public and none of the proceeds will benefit Marshall University or its athletic programs.
The Chris Cline Athletic Facility is located between Third and Fifth avenues to the east of Joan C. Edwards Stadium.