For most Mountaineer Fans, when you say the name John Pennington, one thing comes to mind… an amazing diving catch in the endzone that helped WVU beat Pitt in 2003.
"I apologize if this is the millionth time you have been asked this," I said. "But take me back to that moment. What does it mean to you now?"
It was quiet for a moment, almost as if he was really sitting there, imagining the play all over again in his head.
"I love when people bring it up," Pennington answered. " It was a dream come true for me. It just represents dreaming big, holding on to a dream, believing in myself and seeing all my hard work pay off."
Now, that one single play, his one shining moment, will be etched in the West Virginia Football history book forever, and Pennington has left a lasting legacy.
So with the "glory days" of WVU Football behind him, the ex-Mountaineer football favorite is using his notoriety to start a new venture.
Along with his wife Andrea, a former track standout at Marshall, and his friend, Hollis Lewis, Pennington has started a unique business in Charleston, West Virginia named The Athletic and Social League.
Summed up in their mission statement, The Athletic and Social League is an organization that provides activities for men and women in the Charleston area. The primary goal for this organization is to make Charleston a healthier and more vitalized community by providing events and leagues where adults in the area can socialize, compete athletically, network professionally and give back to the community.
"My wife and I always wanted to give back to the community but didn't know exactly how to do that," Pennington said. "We just love people and have such a passion to emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle and this league is such a great way to do that."
Just like his time in Morgantown as a part of West Virginia Football, this league provides a way for adults, interested in the same things, to interact, socialize and network along with building camaraderie as teammates and friends.
From Flag Football to Beach Volleyball, Pennington hopes this new-age approach to recreation sports will be a "one-stop-shop" for adult athletics in the greater Charleston, West Virginia area.
Proving to be a living example, Pennington describes himself as always busy and on-the-go. He likes it that way.
As a Division II College Football Coach at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia, he wears many hats: Special Teams Coordinator, Wide Receivers Coach and Strength and Conditioning Coordinator.
"I am just making sure I am completely prepared for when an opportunity presents itself. Eventually I want to be an Offensive Coordinator and a Head Coach, so being involved in so many different aspects of the game of football can only help."
Along with serving in all those different football roles, Pennington is also in the thick of writing his dissertation to obtain his Ph.D. while being a devoted husband and father to little boy, Nolan.
Allow me to serve as a judge for just a moment so I can clearly state, I am certainly a believer that Pennington can do it all.
From our 20 minute phone conversation while he was out on the road recruiting, you can hear in his voice, he is passionate, ambitious and speaks flawlessly, all with the friendliness and demeanor of a big-time head-coach-in-waiting. One cannot help but like him and root for him.
But the thing is, most West Virginia fans have been cheering for him for long before this time, since his days in old gold and blue, and now Pennington is just giving his faithful following more to cheer about…a West Virginia born, former Mountaineer Football standout making a positive impact in the football world and in the community. It just doesn't get much better than that.
Photo Courtesy of Concord University.