HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – Chemistry is crucial in building a championship football team.

That’s why director of player development Doug Chapman has the Thundering Herd in the Huntington community, lending a helping hand, making memories, and getting to know the fans that support them.

“There are times when I would look on third down at Chad Pennington, and I knew he’d make the play because we had built that off-field chemistry,” said Chapman. “The kids are seeing how important it is for them to give back to a community that gives them so much. We ask these fans to sit in all the elements. We ask these fans to support us when we win or when we lose. So for us to get out and show that we support them during the offseason makes them want to come back during week 13…and sit here and support us for four quarters.”

Marshall football partnered with the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s Office, Red Cross and the Huntington Fire Department, to install smoke detectors; while learning the importance of fire safety.

They also chatted with fans about their excitement for this upcoming season. One happy fan was able to show the team his Marshall shrine, all decked out in green and white with memorabilia from both past and present.

Kickoff is months away, but the coaches are using these team bonding exercises to build that chemistry, because the guys next to them today will be the ones backing each other up in the fall.

“Usually you have more wins when the team is close,” said Chapman. “So to help the guys bond and get to know each other away from the football field, I know it’s going to help us when we put on the pads this fall.”

“The camaraderie and the family atmosphere is what you need, because that’s going to transfer to the field eventually,” said special assistant to the head coach Mike Bartrum. “If I look over and see ‘oh man this is a guy I went to dinner with, this is a guy I just played paintball with, this is a guy I just did community service with. I got his back, he’s got my back.” 

Wins and losses do matter, but this coaching staff is trying to make their players better men in the future.

“They’re seeing what it’s about,” said Bartrum. “We can bring them to water, but we can’t make them drink. But what we can do is bring them all the tools to be successful in life.”