Homegrown: Chase Harler's dream now reality at WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Homegrown: Chase Harler's dream now reality at WVU

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Chase Harler eyes the scoreboard in the first half of a WVU win over Iowa State. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle) Chase Harler eyes the scoreboard in the first half of a WVU win over Iowa State. (PHOTO: Geoff Coyle)
MORGANTOWN -

In the shadow of the West Virginia State Penitentiary, neighboring Grave Creek Mound from which a city gained its name, there was a boy who grew up with a dream that many believed would remain in the fantasy genre.

Chase Harler was not too unlike any kid who called the Mountain State home. He passed the time outdoors, riding his bike, swinging a baseball bat or lobbing a jumper toward one of the baskets at the local park.

When it got dark and his parents called him home, he returned to a bedroom decked out floor to ceiling in gold and blue. His dreams were painted in these colors, a vision that one day he would don the same uniform that graced Jerry West in the photos he taped to his walls.

“He was a very determined kid, very headstrong,” John Harler, Chase’s father, says of his son. “His work ethic has always been there. He knows what he wants and he works hard to get it.”

So the young Harler put that determination to work. He would trek across town on a near daily basis to put up shots at East End, where Harler, in middle school at the time, sought out high school-aged opponents.

If he wanted to develop into a player who could one day catch Bob Huggins’ attention, he wasn’t going to do it against kids his own age.

“I think being from West Virginia defined me,” Chase says. “You have to work for what you get. I felt like nothing was going to be given to me.”

Instead, he took it.

Chase, with the help of his parents and a mobile home, began to travel in an effort to find the best talent in the area. He would test his progress against other players who would one day get a call or a letter from a college coach in search of talent.

“It wasn’t like he woke up one day and thought, ‘I’m going to get to be a Mountaineer,’ “ Tammy, Chase’s mother, says. “He knew he had to work really hard to be a Mountaineer. He has to go to school, he has to be in class by about 7:30 and he would be up at 5:30. You would hear noise out in the hallway and it would be Chase with his bag going down the steps off to the gym.”

It wasn’t simply a dream of playing college basketball, though that was certainly a big part of the plan – Chase had specifically focused his efforts on the hope that after years of attending WVU basketball games at the Coliseum in Morgantown, he would find himself running out on the carpet like the heroes he looked up to.

On the way home from a Mountaineer game one night, Chase told his father that he would love to play in that arena in front of those fans. His father shared the enthusiasm, but he also had to be the one with the level head who kept expectations in check. He made sure Chase knew that any college basketball was an accomplishment worth celebrating.

John underestimated that determined, headstrong kid he raised. Chase returned from watching a WVU game in which the Mountaineers beat Iowa State and stared at the ceiling in his bedroom, overwhelmed by the urge to one day travel to Morgantown as something more than a fan.

“I couldn’t sleep because all I could think about was wanting to play there more than anything, ever,” Chase says. “I remember almost [being] in tears because I just wanted to play there more than anything.”

As it turns out, lying on his bed, facing his ceiling, was the perfect place to feel such emotions. Since he was younger, Chase had two pieces of paper with handwritten messages posted right above his bed.

One read: “The average person would not get up … Be different. Be great!”

The other: “How can you lay there knowing somebody is outworking you?!!”

“My dad always said if you’re not working, someone else is and when you meet them, they will win. I always kind of kept that in the back of my mind,” Chase says.

After his sophomore season in high school, Chase received an invitation to attend a basketball camp in Morgantown. He put his skills on display in front of Bob Huggins and the rest of the WVU staff and wound up first with an invitation into the head coach’s office and next with an invitation to join the Mountaineers on a full scholarship.

He committed on the spot. When your dream is presented to you, there is no sense in waiting.

Now he is nearing the end of his first season in Morgantown, gaining more confidence in himself and more confidence from the staff as he sees his minutes increase.

When he returns to Moundsville these days, the WVU sheets on his bed no longer represent a dream.

“Sometimes I forget that I’m a Mountaineer,” Chase says. “With all the hard work and all the schooling, you kind of don’t get time to sit back and really appreciate everything. When I do get to go home and go in that bedroom, I kind of just sit there like wow, this is really happening and I’m really living my dream.”

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