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COLUMN: The Valley comes together

I have lived in the Ohio Valley my entire life. I’m not sure that I’ve ever been prouder to say that than after this past weekend.

Sure, this area isn’t the richest, and we have our fair share of problems, but when our fellow Valley natives are hurting, you can bet we’re going to come together.

Friday night upon getting rosters at the game I was covering, I found out that Oak Glen senior Zach Taylor was wearing a different jersey number. The reason, to honor Roane County’s Alex Miller, who died the previous week.

I was even more impressed by the gesture after the game when coach Ted Arneault told me doing so was Taylor’s idea to be the one to do so.

As I checked social media late Friday night, I saw that his gesture was far from unique as photos and posts from across West Virginia poured in, including from Weir High before its game at Keyser.

None of those teams had to do what they did, but they did, and it shows how an entire state can come together, regardless of differences, and rally around their fellow man in a time of need and grief.

During the game Friday, while watching Taylor play wearing Miller’s No. 80, I found out about the death of Indian Creek assistant coach Mike Voltz. Later that night I learned of the players for both Indian Creek and Buckeye Local coming together to pray at midfield following the game, and other things Buckeye Local did, such as a collection taken up, to support Indian Creek.

I had only brief interactions with coach Voltz in passing, and did not know him, but from everything I have heard he was a good man that will be missed by many around the Valley.

As Indian Creek head coach Andrew Connor put it, “That moment was bigger than football.”

Sports in the Ohio Valley mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but they are something brings us together.

Seeing the acts of kindness in multiple places this weekend reminded me how lucky I was to grow up here.

How special of a place this Valley is and how special the people here are.

Regardless of what colors we wear on Friday nights, or in gymnasiums across the area, or what school we went to — when push comes to shove, we are all one big community.

Count me as grateful to be a part of it.

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