Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Flashback '70: unforgettable, unbelievable night

On a Friday afternoon in November of 1970, Marshall University's football team boarded a chartered jet plane at Tri-State Airport. Little did anyone know that by the next evening, the Thundering Herd's season would end abruptly and under the most tragic of circumstances.
 Thundering Herd takes the field from back in the day

On the night of November 14, Marshall's plane crashed short of the runway on the team's return trip from East Carolina. There were no survivors among the 75 passengers on board. Crash victims included most of the team and coaching staff, along with athletic administrators, media people, civic leaders, MU athletic supporters and the flight crew.

The school and the city of Huntington, West Virginia were stunned overwhelmed by deep sorrow. Not only did the crash touch everyone on and off the Marshall campus, but it cut across all racial, gender and socioeconomic lines. Right after the crash, there were stories circulating about how some of the players were superstitious and felt uneasy about leaving town to travel on a Friday the 13th.

But that's just part of the story. What really hits home is how life ended prematurely for so many young and talented men. Death prevented them from pursuing their dreams and aspirations. It's especially sad when you look at it from the standpoint of being in your early 20s, a time when most young adults are beginning to come into their own.

November 14, 1970 will never be forgotten. 

The memory will certainly remain fresh in the minds of those who were there at that time. This story, though, has a timeless quality to it that resonates with people who know little or nothing about Marshall University or the state of West Virginia. Even though the story strikes a strong cord among college football fans, it's also well received among those who have little or no interest in college football.

- David K.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Golf tournament honoring 1970 Herd kicker set

Latjerman played a key role as MU's placekicker
Marcelo Latjerman played just one season of varsity football at Marshall University. But during that one season, he showed much promise as one of the nation’s up-and-coming place-kickers. As a sophomore, his longest field goal of the season was a 47-yarder vs. Western Michigan.

Latjerman, a native of Lynhurst, New Jersey, was unable to finish his college career. He was among the 75 passengers who died in the Marshall plane crash on the night of November 14, 1970. There were no survivors in this tragedy which nearly decimated the Thundering Herd’s football team. Although it’s been nearly 44 years since the crash, the memories have not faded away.

Since 2007, the Latjerman family has honored the memory of Marcelo and the 1970 team with a golf tournament. This annual event serves as a fundraiser for a scholarship award which bears his name.

The Marcelo Latjerman Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament will be held September 12 at the Silo Golf Course in Lavalette, West Virginia. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and tee-off is 10 a.m. Tournament proceeds are earmarked for academic and athletic scholarships at Marshall. Initially held in New Jersey, the tournament was moved to West Virginia last year.

Entry fee is $100 player/$400 per team. The fee entitles tourney participants to a light breakfast, along with lunch, a golf shirt, hat, and a mug. For more information, contact the tournament’s assistant director Mike Stapleton by email at staple8@gmail.com or call 304-634-5274.