Today is a special day for this Senior Editor. Today is my birthday, and 39 years ago I was brought into this world in Bellaire Hospital in Bellaire, Ohio. I find it funny how people always warn about milestone birthdays...
“Wait till you hit 40!”
“It all goes downhill when you hit 50.”
I get it, Father Time remains undefeated, but I’ll be damned if I am going to succumb to some stupid narrative about a number.
I think back to my childhood in Wheeling, West Virginia, and I have a new appreciation for where I came from. Nestled in the hills of West Virginia, I lived a rather sheltered life, but always hated the attachment to the mountain state. When I went to college at Shepherd College/University (they switched the name while I was in school) in Shepherdstown, WV, other classmates from neighboring Virginia, Maryland and even Pennsylvania would joke about how shocked they were I had all my teeth, and how amazing it was I didn’t speak with some crazy twang.
For my brother and me, this bothered us to the point where when people asked where we were from we wouldn’t say Wheeling, but “close to Pittsburgh”. We weren’t lying, only about 45 minutes out of the Steel City, but it saved us from the myriad of questions and jokes which almost always seem to follow.
As I’ve grown older I have developed a tremendous appreciation for my home state, and I’m not talking about “close to Pittsburgh”. I’m talking about my hometown of Wheeling in the wild, and wonderful, state of West Virginia. I don’t call the mountain state home anymore, but it was my upbringing there which helped develop the man I am today.
Pride is an important thing, and in this life we are often too quick to dismiss, or keep secret, what we truly value and appreciate. Why? That’s a question only each individual can answer, but for me I have a pride in where I’m from for a ton of reasons. One of those reasons is the love I developed there for Pittsburgh sports.
When you look at the geographical location of Wheeling, you can see how I could have grown up with my allegiance to many teams/organizations. See below:
From my home, where my parents still live, I can be in Ohio in five minutes, and in Pennsylvania in ten. We could have easily been Cleveland Browns fans, or even Cincinnati Bengals fans. Both are still represented in the area, but we grew up Pittsburgh Steelers fans. As much as I hated the connotation of being from West Virginia in my younger years, I can’t complain considering where I am now with this site.
Recently, I’ve been reading about an aboriginal tribe in Australia which doesn’t celebrate birthdays. They only celebrate another year of life if you can come to the tribe and tell them you have improved in some way the past year.
This was eye-opening to me, and something I found value in. If we aren’t trying to always improve, what are we doing? When I think back at the last year, I feel I can come to this tribe, right here at BTSC, and say there is reason for celebration.
I was extremely proud of the work we did this past season, in a lot of ways. The editorial side continued to be a machine churning out incredible content at every turn. The writers on this website might not be journalists with fancy degrees, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better site with better insights on the Steelers.
On the podcast side, well, I am reminded about just how rapid the growth is on that side of the site. Last year we reached 1,000,000 downloads in May. This year we saw us roll over that same milestone on the 10th of February.
Personally, I can’t be happier with my life right now. My amazing, and understanding, wife, my five beautiful children, my health and my work are just some of the things I’m appreciative for this year. I’ve grown as a writer and podcaster, but more importantly as a man. I look at the next year not as the last year of my 30s, but as a chance for me to keep improving. I stare 40 straight in the eyes, and I’m going to approach it with a vigor and tenacity few have ever seen before.
In the meantime, I’m going to sit back and reflect on 39 tremendous years on this earth. I am thankful for each and every day, and I’m thankful for every one of you who visit this site/listen to our podcasts.
“Take me home, country roads...”
(Note: The “Letter From the Editor” series runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offseason.)