Month: March 2017

The Will Grier era is about to take Morgantown by storm

The Will Grier era is about to take Morgantown by storm

By: Ashley Conley

The anticipation West Virginia fans have for upcoming quarterback Will Grier is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Grier isn’t just the ‘next man up’. There’s a certain type of hope that beams from his bright smile, strong arm and semi-proven ability–a championship-caliber hope.

There’s a million reasons for WVU fans to be excited. Players like Grier aren’t ‘supposed’ to come to West Virginia; this isn’t a school that’s known for getting highly recruited or top-rated players on the regular.

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Will Grier (14-gold jersey) breaks away from a team huddle. (Image Credit: Ashley Conley)

In 2015, Grier led the Florida Gators to a 6-0 start. Soon after, his football world rapidly fell apart when he received a one-year suspension from the NCAA for PED use. His future in Gainesville was up in the air. He decided to transfer. But where would he go? A powerhouse school? Another highly-decorated program with multiple national titles?

Nope. He chose West Virginia. Non-fans were pretty stunned…

…while Mountaineer Nation welcomed Grier and his endless potential with open arms. This is the kind of quarterback talent they’ve been anticipating since Pat White and Geno Smith, who led WVU to a Fiesta Bowl victory (2008) and Orange Bowl victory (2012), respectively.

As September approaches, the excitement has only grown greater, even though there’s a slight possibility Grier won’t be eligible to play in week one due to the 365-day nature of his suspension. However, West Virginia has made an appeal to the NCAA that will likely be approved.

These fans have every right to be this high on the Grier horse. A 10-win season in 2016 ended in a Russell Athletic Bowl loss and a broken connection between fans and two-year starting QB Skyler Howard. Disappointment is nothing new for this fan base, but being genuinely confident in the QB position months prior to the season starting is relatively fresh.

Since he last saw game action on a collegiate football field, Grier has grown up. He survived the public scrutiny resulting from his mistake, went through the transfer process, got married and became a father. Something tells me that he’s never been more prepared to win than he is right now.

Cover Image: Ashley Conley

Ashley Conley is a senior journalism student at WVU. She aspires to become a writer or reporter in the sports industry upon graduation. You can follow her on Twitter @ashleyconleyyy

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Olympic gymnasts on back-to-back seasons of DWTS – is it fair?

Olympic gymnasts on back-to-back seasons of DWTS – is it fair?

By: Ashley Conley

On the last season of ABC’s hit show Dancing With the Stars, gold medal-winning Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez pretty much dominated the competition to claim the coveted mirrorball trophy. This season, Hernandez’s USA Gymnastics teammate and fellow Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles is a cast member and is already a favorite to win after just one dance.

Is it really fair to the other competitors to have a highly athletic, flexible gymnast who flips, practices balance and maneuvers through intricate floor routines on the world’s largest stage on back-to-back seasons? Some viewers believe it isn’t.

If you’re a regular DWTS fan, you know that there tends to be some sort of casting controversy every season. Athletes (like Apolo Ohno and Emmitt Smith), musicians who have background in dance (like Lance Bass and Kellie Pickler) and even professional dancers or actresses who have had major dancing roles (like Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Gray and former Beyonce backup dancer and Glee actress Heather Morris who’s competing this season) have been featured in the cast since season one. Despite the seemingly impossible-to-beat competitors from pervious seasons, people still flock to their TV’s at 8 p.m. on Monday nights.

At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Hernandez won three medals (one gold and two silvers). Biles, who’s considered the greatest gymnast in the world right now, won five medals (four gold and one bronze) including the gold for gymnastics individual all-around.

In her DWTS debut on Monday night, Biles and her parter, Sasha Farber, earned a score of 32/40-the highest of the night-with a stunning tango. You can see the performance here. The olympian’s supporters were live on Twitter to cheer on their star athlete and new favorite ballroom dancer.

And, of course, Hernandez was in attendance to encourage her BFF.

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glamour.com

The ‘shoe-in’ to win it doesn’t always get the job done. Therefore, I have to say that Biles following in Hernandez’s footsteps isn’t unfair, but instead an added incentive to watch. I have a feeling someone (maybe Fifth Harmony’s Normani Kordei or NFL standout Rashad Jennings?) may give the 4-foot-9 impeccable gymnast a run for her money.

Cover Image: nbcolympics.com

Ashley Conley is a senior journalism student at WVU. She aspires to become a writer or reporter in the sports industry upon graduation. You can follow her on Twitter @ashleyconleyyy

Why does Tim Tebow have so many haters?

Why does Tim Tebow have so many haters?

By: Ashley Conley

Tim Tebow has a host of haters. Maybe it’s because he failed to become a pro sensation after displaying one of the greatest college football careers of all time; maybe it’s because he played in only 35 games over his five-year career in the NFL and didn’t live up to the potential of a first round draft pick (he was selected 25th overall in 2010); maybe it’s because he’s now participating in a second professional sport – baseball – and people think he only got a spot on the Gulf Coast League Mets because he’s Tim Tebow and not because he’s actually decent at the game.

Or maybe it’s because he’s a regular on television screens nationwide as a SEC Network broadcaster, an author (on the New York Times Best Sellers list), a very open Christian and one heck of a charitable man with his own profoundly successful foundation that benefits children around the world. Apparently, people love to hate amazing humans.

Since Tebow made his baseball debut with the Mets organization last week, he’s been all over the news and social media channels. There are those that embrace his efforts:

And there are those that wish he’d disappear from the sports industry once and for all.

Whether you love him or hate him (or just dislike him), you have to admit that Tebow’s humanitarian qualities are second to none.

Most recently, Tebow hosted a Celebrity Gala and Golf Classic. The Classic has raised over $7 million dollars over the last five years to benefit a handful of charities including W15H Program (Tebow’s wish-granting foundation), Timmy’s Playrooms (a section of Tebow’s foundation dedicated to building playrooms in children’s hospitals), Tebow CURE Hospital (a hospital opened by Tebow in the Philippines), Orphan Care and Adoption Aid (which helps children who have been left homeless or abandoned), and Night to Shine.

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timtebowfoundation.org

In February, Tebow’s 2017 Night to Shine created an “unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older,” according to the charities website. A whopping 75,000 people with special needs attended the event made possible by 150,000 volunteers and Tebow himself.

Wow. Just wow.

Tebow’s minor league stint hasn’t been all that great thus far. In five games, he batted 3-for-14 and struckout four times. Check out the crowd reaction to his first-career hit:

But the social media reaction to everything else has been subpar.

I’m a Tebow fan. I’m not sure if I’ve seen an athlete who works harder than this guy does. The best part is that he’ll do whatever it takes to achieve his dream, even when the world is against him. In 2008, the Florida Gators were defeated by Ole Miss 31-30. Tebow, the starting quarterback, gave this speech following the game. The Gators went on to win the BCS National Championship.

So, the next time you degrade Tebow for what he does (or doesn’t do) on the field, just remember what he’s already accomplished and what he does off the field, because I’m sure it’s more than most people will accomplish in their entire lives – and he’s not even 30 yet.

Cover Image: esquire.com

Ashley Conley is a senior journalism student at WVU. She aspires to become a writer or reporter in the sports industry upon graduation. You can follow her on Twitter @ashleyconleyyy

WVU women’s basketball sure knows how to shock the world

WVU women’s basketball sure knows how to shock the world

By: Ashley Conley

WVU fans have been ecstatic all week after watching their women’s basketball team upset three Big 12 opponents, including the No. 2 team in the nation, to earn the program’s first conference tournament championship since joining the Big 12.

Even the West Virginia State Police got on board.

The Mountaineers weren’t supposed to make it this far. The ladies in gold and blue finished the regular season with a mediocre 20-10 record and started out the tournament in the No. 6 seed. After upsetting the higher-seeded Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns earlier in the week, knocking off the Baylor Bears (who had won the last six Big 12 Tournament titles) didn’t seem so impossible.

An unforeseen defeat of Baylor and a magnificent showing to claim the Big 12 tourney title means the Mountaineers are going dancing (straight to the NCAA Tournament) with an automatic bid. WVU bolted back into the Coaches Poll at No. 22 and was barely left off the list in the latest AP Top 25 after receiving 31 votes.

Amidst cutting down the nets, this team is up to something special. They’ll attempt to shock the world (again) when the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament begins on March 17.

Cover Image: wvusports.com

Ashley Conley is a senior journalism student at WVU. She aspires to become a writer or reporter in the sports industry upon graduation. You can follow her on Twitter @ashleyconleyyy