RED JACKET — The Mingo Central Miners are starting a tradition.
Traditions have been a part of sports for as long as they have been organized.
In Colorado they trot a buffalo down the sidelines before a game, in Auburn they let an Eagle soar around the Stadium before a game and at Clemson they have a rock, called Howard’s Rock. Football teams have been using their own special traditions for a long time.
The Miners have decided they need one of their own. Surprisingly, their story follows along the path of Clemson’s Howard’s Rock very closely but with much more local importance.
The Miners have a a block of coal, it’s no bigger than a football, and it came from the exact location the football stadium is built upon now.
The Miners were given this chunk of coal over three years ago, it had many uses around the office and locker room. The chunk of coal was used as a door stop, a piece of furniture and a fighting weapon when tempers flared among the coaching staff. This chunk of coal was exactly that for three years, a chunk of coal laying around the locker room.
Now that the Miners have a few football seasons under their belt, and the growing pains of consolidation are becoming a funny memory, they have decided to make the place feel more like home.
The Miners will begin their sixth season as a football program this year and they have developed a great pedigree during that time. They are expected to make the state playoffs every year, Miners fans expect not only a winning season but a perfect season every year, and star players are sometimes seen as local celebrities around these parts.
The Miners have laid the foundation of the program and now they can start to build an identity with the program. Influences came from many teams around the nation, WVU has a similar tradition where the entire team and staff take a designed team walk from WVU Medical Center to the stadium, along the way they pass a big piece of coal that was donated to the team by Alpha Natural Resources, the Mountaineers call this; “the Mantrip.”
The Miners were influenced by the idea WVU had, but “The Pillar” means something more to the loyal fans of the Mingo Central Miners, it means home.
There is no need to try and school our population on what coal means to the area, coal affects everyone whether they want to or not.
The Miners have decided to highlight this common thread we all share with a simple gesture that means a lot. The coaching staff at Mingo Central put in the work of downsizing the lump of coal, cleaning it, putting on some shine, and placing it on a stand.
Before the game, the players will not enter the field of battle before they have touched “The Pillar.”
Fans will be welcomed to take pictures with “The Pillar” and be a part of the tradition as the game goes on.
The name stems from the second most important part of a deep mine, behind the men working inside, it is the pillar that holds the roof above and the workers below.
Naming it “The Pillar” metaphorically says we all stand together as one, we all do our part, not one of us is less important than the other, no work can be done without all of us standing together.
The Pillar, will have a plaque on the front reading: “Dedicated to the Mingo Central Football Team, and the hard working individuals both on and off the field, who have sacrificed their lives, to earn the right to be called a miner.”
Assistant Coach Joey Fields said, “Doing these types of traditions is to connect the community and our fans with this program. We want everyone involved here to feel a sense of home. This is something we can all be proud of, our miners on the field work hard just like the miners in the mine.”
The Miners are excited to display The Pillar at the beginning of this season and at all home games.
The Miners will play their first home game against the Tolsia Rebels on Sept, 2. at Buck Harless Stadium. The Rebels knocked the Miners out of the playoffs last season in the semifinals.
Clemson began using Howard’s Rock because when it was displayed the first time the Tigers beat Wake Forest, a longtime rival, maybe the Miners may have the same luck.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] or on twitter @sidplaster)