Enjoy the moment, Herd fans.
When Jamil Roberts’ kick sailed into the goal past the outstretched hands of the Indiana goalkeeper, he made himself a part of Marshall history the way Willy Merrick, Bruce Morris, Terry Gardner and many others have done — and probably will.
Coach Chris Grassie, his staff and the team itself showed it can be done. Marshall can compete with larger programs with bigger budgets and more storied histories.
Sportswriters and others will tell how it was done and whether it is likely to happen again. The important thing is that it did happen and it can happen again. Not just with soccer, but with other university functions: academics, the arts, the sciences, economic development, community service, community leadership and the many, many other ways Marshall leaves its mark on its students, the community, the region, the state and the nation.
Roberts’ goal was the one single moment to endear him to Marshall fans forever, the way Merrick’s kick was in the 1992 I-AA football championship game, Morris’ record-breaking basketball shot was in 1985 and Gardner’s reception that gave the Young Thundering Herd its victory over Xavier in 1971. All of those single-moment achievements, however, were made possible by the work of teammates, coaches and others whose efforts led to those moments.
It was truly a team effort to get Marshall to victory in the College Cup championship game. Some people contributed in visible ways. Some contributed in ways they might never know about. But their contributions made victory possible.
Monday night’s achievement was one to savor. Fans of sports and underdogs took to social media Tuesday morning to congratulate the team on its success. The celebration continued into Tuesday evening as hundreds of fans welcomed the team’s return home with a rally at the Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex.
By now most of the celebrations are over. Students have left campus for the summer. Marshall employees are using their vacation time, and people in the community are turning to other pursuits. This victory won’t be forgotten, though. And it must not be.
National prominence has been done on the field. It can be done in the classroom, the lab or the theater. It can be done anywhere a vehicle has a Marshall sticker in the rear window. This one moment has passed. It’s time to do what’s necessary for the next one.