Monday, January 16, 2012
News article prompted decision to write my story
A few days prior to the debut showing of the movie We Are Marshall (2006), I read a newspaper article that eventually led to me to write the memoir November Ever After.
The article was about the Marshall plane crash recollections of Jim Grobe, the head football coach at Wake Forest University. Coach Grobe grew up in Barboursville, West Virginia, a suburb of Huntington, which is where MU is located. At the time of the crash, Grobe was in his first year at Ferrum Junior College in Virginia. Grobe later served as a Marshall assistant coach under Sonny Randle (1979-83).
Coach Grobe’s wife, Holly, grew up in Huntington. Her best friend, Kathy Heath, lost both her parents who were passengers on the DC-9 jet that crashed and killed all seventy-five people on board. Emmett and Elaine Heath were avid supporters of Marshall Athletics.
The Grobes have an undeniable connection to the tragedy. But when I started thinking about it, it occurred to me that as a former teammate who knew most of the players on that plane, I could be as good a source about the Marshall story as anyone.
Initially, I considered doing a television interview, but I changed my mind. A sound bite on nightly TV news doesn’t lend itself to very much in-depth discussion. That’s when I decided to approach my local newspaper (Winston-Salem Journal in North Carolina). I really thought that one of the staff writers would interview me about my take on the tragedy. Instead, the sports editor (Terry Oberle) asked me to write a lengthy feature article using a first-person narrative style.
The feature was done sometime in January 2007, but was still unpublished after about a year. At that juncture, it became clear to me that I needed to take a different path. By March of 2008, it finally occurred to me that I had a viable story that should be published as a book.