Like Bob Huggins, whose support of Remember the Miners in the wake of mining disasters and deaths in the state has also touched many lives, Mazey has shown that his priorities are in the right place as he coordinated his team's contributions to relief efforts in the wake of Monday's killer tornadoes in Oklahoma.
There's no doubt that his players, who have already learned a great deal on the field from Mazey, have learned something much larger – a lesson that applies to the game of life.
Almost as soon as the tornado passed his location, Mazey began planning ways in which to assist the victims of the twister. Although the half-mile wide tornado came within four miles of the team's location, they had barely picked their heads up from cover before they began planning to do what they could to assist. They first volunteered their services in direct relief efforts at the disaster sites, but after learning that only trained first responders, emergency workers and the like are allowed in, they turned their attention to procuring life necessities for those that lost their homes and belongings in the storm. Backed by the Friends of Mountaineer Baseball (the fundraising arm dedicated to the sport at WVU), Mazey's Mountaineers hit a local Wal-Mart to load up on supplies.
“I told them it was a time for necessities of life, and they did a really good job,” Mazey said of the results of the supply run. “Our guys are resourceful, and it was a good variety of things. There were shoes and socks and pants and shirts, mattresses, flashlights, batteries.”
The trip took on even more meaning when the team met a woman shopping in the store whose home had been leveled by the tornado. She had also gone through several hours of anxiety earlier in the day when she had been unable to make contact with her children. That experience, which brought the WVU contingent face-to-face with one of the affected parties, made the devastation hit home even more.
“Once we saw her and heard her story, we re-routed her to the front and and had her go through the things we had bought to get what she needed. That was just a great experience,” Mazey recalled. “In the store, we had strangers coming up and giving us $20 bills to help purchase supplies. That really shows the strength of people in the time of tragedy.”
The meeting, as well as the impact of the entire disaster, showed when Mazey was interviewed by KFOR-TV. His emotions on display, Mazey demonstrated just why West Virginia has hired not only an excellent coach, but a Class A human being as well.
“Baseball is just trivial when something like that happens,” Mazey said in the interview. “Whether we win or lose games down here this weekend, out kids have been impacted.
“I think the act of helping meant a lot to them, and it's what they will remember,” Mazey followed up later in the day. “Twenty years from now, they'll remember helping out and making the donations, not the games themselves. I think this has given them an appreciation for how their assistance can help. They've helped a lot of people.”
WVU isn't done, either. Even though the team could probably use the extra day's rest granted by the decision to push back the league tournament start until Thursday, the players are sill on the assistance trail. Tuesday afternoon, the squad was in another Oklahoma city suburb near Moore, helping to distribute supplies at a relief center. Tweets and photos from that location showed that the Mountaineers took their relief help seriously, and that there weren't going to stop finding ways to pitch in.
For his part, Mazey wishes that he and his team could have been in a position to help more quickly and more directly, but it's hard to imagine how they could have done so without being allowed into the zones struck by the tornadoes. His wish to do anything possible, and his team's ability to put aside the excitement of making the Big 12 tournament in favor of more important things, made the coach and the entire state proud.