Paul Woodside Shares Experiences in Return to WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Paul Woodside Shares Experiences in Return to WVU

MORGANTOWN -  With the rate at which Morgantown is growing and expanding and changing right before our very eyes, it is understandable that many graduates return to their alma mater and do not recognize much of what they see.

Paul Woodside is no different.

The former West Virginia University kicker came in off of the interstate and took the familiar route through the Mileground on his way to Milan Puskar Stadium and suddenly there he was, entering a roundabout he had never seen before. A few times around, he realized he was quite unaware of where he was or how he would ever make it to Mountaineer Field.

“I kept going around in circles thinking, ‘I know I have to exit off here somewhere,’” Woodside said Tuesday. “I finally found it, but it’s the spirit of the school, the spirit of the people here, the spirit of the state is great. That’s what literally changed my life and you’re indebted to that for the rest of my life.”

Woodside was in Morgantown this week for his kicking camp, a chance to impart some of his knowledge of the game to a younger generation that hopes to find similar success to what he enjoyed at WVU.

A 1999 inductee into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame, Woodside set the bar high for any kicker tried filling his shoes in the decades since he called Morgantown home.

He still holds the record for the longest field goal in program history, a 55-yard connection in a win over Louisville back in the 1984 season. He held the WVU record for career points (323) for more than 20 years before Steve Slaton came through the program and surpassed his mark, a record now held by one of the school’s more recent kickers, Pat McAfee.

The work he put in during his own playing days makes Woodside a credible coach at this point in his life, when young kickers from West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other nearby states come to Morgantown to learn about their craft.

“I’m humbled by it and thankful for the opportunity,” Woodside said of the camp. “My time here at West Virginia was great and any opportunity that I have to give back in a tangible way to help athletes of tomorrow, I’m more than willing to do it.”

Woodside put the athletes through a number of kicking drills, sure, but he also pushed them physically and had them doing bear crawls along the turf before the day was done. He put them each in groups of four, challenging them to beat each other in a field goal competition, promising the winner a golden kicking tee.

The lessons he hoped to leave them with extended well beyond just becoming a better kicker, though.

“The biggest thing at that age, which I did not have, is perspective and understanding,” Woodside said. “The biggest thing that I want the athletes to see is don’t try to be somebody else, don’t try to kick like somebody else, you’ve got to be yourself. In that, you’ll find confidence, freedom, belief, trust – all those things that you’re looking for come when you’re being who you are and not anybody else.”

Who Woodside was when he played at WVU was quite a stud. In 1983, he was named a first-team All-American after connecting on 21 of his 25 attempts and in 1984, his fourth quarter boot helped the Mountaineers get their first victory over Penn State since 1955 with a 17-14 final in Morgantown.

“To be able to be with a great group of guys to experience that, to say, ‘Yo Adrian, we did it!’ That part of it was fantastic,” Woodside said of the win over Penn State. “To see – yes, I know the safety concerns, I understand that – but the uprights being torn down, to see people celebrate, that memory right there is what I hold. To see the state of West Virginia being able to celebrate victory – that’s what I love about the state and that’s what I hold on to.”

All these years later, as so many kickers have come and gone through the program and roundabouts have popped up in his absence, Woodside continues to take pride in the fact that he can call himself a Mountaineer.

“It’s an identity that I’ll have for the rest of my life,” he said. “I hold it dear and I’m protective of it, defensive of it because this school, these people changed my life and for that, I am forever indebted.” 

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