Coston poised to learn about West Virginia's "Country Roads"
By Miles Layton
Thursday, June 20, 2019
It's around 1 a.m. Thursday, June 20th – West Virginia Day!
My insomnia is inspired by memories of the Mountain State, Huntington in particular, and a football star from Edenton, NC.
John A. Holmes High School's Kentreaz Coston is headed to Marshall University to play for the Thundering Herd. Winner of the coveted Coach Overton Scholarship, Coston threw for more than 800 yards in a run-first offense with 14 touchdown passes, while being the team’s third-leading rusher with 583 yards on the ground with six touchdowns last season.
Coston was a member of the Aces' state championship 4x100 meter relay and 4x200 meter relay track team.
Not only is Coston a talented all-around athlete, but he has earned top grades as a member of the National Honor Society, an academic group that emphasizes service and leadership.
Coston will have a spot on the roster as a defensive back for the Thundering Herd.
Recruited by other schools, the family atmosphere at Marshall won Coston over.
“It’s like a brotherhood,” Coston said. “Once you go there, you can tell everybody is in it for the bigger picture.”
Since Coston will be undergoing freshman orientation and football boot camp this summer, my mind turns to thoughts of West Virginia.
First, happy birthday to the Mountain State. A formal holiday, West Virginia Day celebrates the state's admission to the Union during the Civil War.
As it is still long before sunrise Thursday morning, here are a few observations that I'd like to share with Coston and anybody else who is curious about West Virginia, a place I once called home.
The people are amazing – kind, caring, open friendly. If you embrace them, they will embrace you.
Most people come from small towns much like Edenton where everyone knows your name, so you'll be right at home. There are parades, festivals and most every place has a story to tell.
The big cities are every bit as culturally active as any place in America. Huntington has a population of around 47,000 but it combines small town charm with big city appeal with its park system, historic downtown and the waterfront by the Ohio River.
Football in that part of the world, well … it is king. Kids from small towns who play for Marshall are revered and everyone still talks about when pro stars like Randy Moss and Chad Pennington played in Edwards Stadium. Despite formidable odds, the Thundering Herd has beaten top teams to claim conference titles and win its share of bowl games.
And Huntington is known for its rebound after a fateful evening in 1970 that still stands as a rallying cry today – check out “We Are Marshall” to understand why.
On that note, there's no denying that the state has its fair share of problems like most places. But when the creeks are rising, people put aside their differences and work together to solve their problems.
Despite how the mainstream media portrays West Virginia, not everyone works in the coal mines though there is a lot of respect for those who do. When a mine disaster occurs, the whole state feels the pain and offers prayers.
The one color that stands out in my mind is how green the trees are during the summer, no matter whether they are along the banks of the Ohio River or high atop the mountains in Canaan Valley. Fall is when the state shines with vibrant breathtaking colors.
So there are many reasons why West Virginians tend to stop what they are doing when they hear John Denver's classic “Country Roads” on the radio.
By God's grace Mr. Coston, you've been blessed with a wonderful opportunity, so make the most of it.
Staff writer Miles Layton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org