Giving The Gift of WVU Fandom
By Bob Hertzel
Sometimes, when your profession is writing about and commenting on the sports of our times, you become a bit hardened and forget the emotional attachment that goes along with being a fan.
It is our job to approach a world that is driven by that emotion with an unbiased eye, to analyze and opinionize and do it in such a detached manner that you forget that little boy that once was in you, the one who idolized Bobby Thomson enough to name his first-born son after him and who awoke every morning and headed for the front porch to pick up the paper to peruse the box scores even before eating the bowl of the Breakfast of Champions.
Even as we see our friends and neighbors, successful in their own businesses, acting almost like children in rooting for the local college team or the Steelers or Penguins or Pirates, we find it quaint but also somewhat troublesome for they are unappreciative of the approach we are professionally bound to take and take our criticism far too seriously, sometimes even more seriously than the coaches or athletes being criticized.
That is why this week it was refreshing to see an announcement out of WVU that acknowledged a gift it was bequeathed by the late Marcella Hoylman, a native of Clarksburg, a resident of Fairmont and, right up until her final days in her late 80s, a fan who followed WVU with a passion.
In the mid-1990s the family of Marcella and her husband, Donald, had established the Donald and Marcella Hoylman Athletic Scholarship, an attempt to give back to the department and the athletes who had given them such joy and entertainment over the years.
The scholarship fund was set up to provide financial assistance to WVU athletes who showed acceptable academic promise and who had a record of good citizenship.
Certainly that was enough, but Marcella went a step further as she provided a $44,000 gift from her estate after dying earlier this year.
WVU was an adopted love for Marcella and Donald Hoylman. Yes, they were West Virginians, but they did not attend the university, which did little to soften their affection for the teams.
“My parents loved WVU basketball and football and supported athletics in so many personal ways,” their daughter, Donna Hoylman-Peduta, said. “Some of my fondest memories are the family vacations we would take following the Mountaineers to away games, tournaments and bowl games.”
Donna and her siblings had gotten their educations at the university, earning both undergraduate and graduate degrees.
One can only imagine the thrills that were built into those sporting vacations, to say nothing of the emotional joy that came with victories and the letdowns that grew out of defeats.
The couple had worked together in business, she as an accountant at Industrial Resoureces, a company of which her husband, Don, became president.
Basketball was their favorite, according to Donna.
“My parents attended basketball games when they were still in the old WVU Field House,” Peduto said.
In fact, one player made such an impression on her that she would remember him when her youngest son was born.
“Mom surprised everyone by naming her youngest son Rodney after Hot Rod Hundley. She was of Greek heritage and it is customary to name children after family members and saints, but her love of WVU athletics trumped this custom,” Donna said.
“Although she and my dad were not graduates of WVU, she felt like she was a perfect example of how all West Virginia citizens feel they are a part of the WVU family. Because of the excellent education we all received from WVU, my mother felt like she wanted to give back to the University that gave her children so much.
“She often stated that WVU was the economic driver of our state, as well as the number one source of pride. ‘As goes WVU, so goes our state’ she would say.”
And, because of it, the fan base is one of the most dedicated in all of college sports.