8-year-old Marshall basketball fan ‘signs’ with the Herd

HUNTINGTON (AP) — Calvin Fields, a second-grade student at Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School, signed this past week with the Marshall Thundering Herd men’s basketball program.

Seated between his mother, Brentney Fields, and Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni at a table in the Cam Henderson Center media room, 8-year-old Fields signed an imitation National Letter of Intent, put on a No. 1 Marshall jersey and embraced Marco, the Marshall mascot, with reporters watching and cameras rolling.

Fields, 8, suffers from cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website www.cff.org. While there has been significant progress in treating the disease, there is still no cure and too many lives are cut far too short, information from the website said.

Brentney Fields said her son was born and raised as a Marshall fan and he began attending Thundering Herd practices last season.

“He has had so much fun this last season, and for him to continue to get to do this and continue to hang out with the team, it’s been amazing to him,” she said. “They treat him just like one of the guys. They mess with him and they play around with him. They don’t treat him any different than any other member of the team, and that’s amazing.”

Marshall men’s basketball director of operations Neal Scaggs, who helped “recruit” the youngster, said Fields was a good luck charm for the Herd, which won its first NCAA Tournament game this year after he started coming around.

Fields has been at quite a few practices since he “joined” the team last year, Scaggs said.

“I think he’s done everything from keeping the clock, getting a few buckets in, rebounds, passes. … He likes to run the stairs more than anything,” Scaggs said.

The faux signing was arranged through Team IMPACT, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams. Bay-Lee Power, engagement and corporate partnership manager, said the match made between Fields and his favorite team was the 1,518th for the organization.

Marshall “teammates” Darius George, Jarrod West and Jannson Williams also sat at the signing table.

“I think Calvin brings a different level of strength to our team,” said West, a sophomore guard. “He’s always at practice having fun and enjoying everything. He’s always trying to help … rebounding and passing it back, whatever it is. He’s always got a smile on his face.”

Williams, a sophomore forward, said every time D’Antoni or assistant coach Scott Rigot get on him for something, he can look over at Fields and he has the biggest smile on his face.

The exercise Fields gets running around at Herd practices is good for him, his mother said.

“This has been the perfect team for him because they are such good people, everyone on the team,” said Brentney Fields, a Marshall graduate attending the pharmacy school. “They have treated Calvin like he was one of them since day one.”

State Delegates Chad Lovejoy, D-Cabell/Wayne, and Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell/Lincoln, represented Gov. Jim Justice at the signing with a proclamation supporting raising awareness of cystic fibrosis by declaring May as Cystic Fibrosis Month in the state of West Virginia.