About the only thing Travis Jones has done nearly as long as spend time as “The Voice of the Indians” on Bridgeport High School radio broadcasts has been time serving as the radio voice for teams Mike Carey has coached. First, he did radio work when Carey served as the head coach of the Salem College men’s team and then followed that up making the call during Carey’s entire time in Morgantown.
When you put it together, Jones has 17 years of working with the current West Virginia University women’s basketball coach. And after nearly two decades, Carey finally said Jones proved his worth this past Saturday when the Mountaineers found themselves stuck at the North Central West Virginia Airport.
“I was told the first plane they brought into Bridgeport had some kind of control problem and they didn’t want us to fly out on that plane so that put us back. Then, the next plane was halfway into Bridgeport from Detroit and it experienced a problem so they sent it back,” Carey said. “Eventually, a third plane was brought in.”
By the time a third plane would get into Harrison County, Carey said he knew any hope of flying out to Ames, Iowa and getting in a practice for a contest Sunday against nationally ranked Iowa State was running out. With the delay likely reaching five hours, Carey said the best case scenario was looking like a 10 p.m. practice once the team got to Iowa.
“That likely wasn’t going to happen. That would have been too late to practice with a game early the next afternoon,” said Carey. “Then, Travis actually came up with a good idea.”
Jones told Carey it might be a good thing to consider practicing locally instead of having the team wait inside the terminal building. Carey agreed and Jones made a phone call to Bridgeport High School Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Matt DeMotto.
“It worked out pretty good,” Jones said. “Matt was actually in the gym when I called him and he told us we could absolutely use the facility.”
Carey was pleased with the news. He was also surprised with how he was able to go from hopeless situation to much-needed practice time.
“That’s the first time I can honestly say that Travis has been of any help to me or any team I’ve coached,” Carey said with a laugh.
Of course, Jones said that’s not the case.
“I take exception to that. We’ve been together for a long time so I’m certain I’ve done one useful thing prior to that,” said Jones, who admittedly wasn’t surprised by Carey’s comment.
Jones said he realized there was an alternative to just waiting inside the terminal when he remembered that WVU has practiced at high schools before. The main times, he said, was in the early rounds of Big East tournament games.
“You had no choice but to go off campus to practice because you couldn’t practice there until you made it to the semifinals,” Jones said. “You were usually at a high school. It just made sense, but we needed for the gym to be available.”
And it was. Although not the first time the high school has allowed a collegiate team to utilize a facility for practice, DeMotto said it was probably the first time WVU’s women’s team has been to BHS for practice.
“We have accommodated other colleges, but to my mind personally, to have the chance to help the Flagship University of the state and one of our own in (former Bridgeport resident) Mike Carey, it was a privilege,” DeMotto said. “We know Mike and we know the Carey family, but beyond that, they were in a pinch and we were more than happy to give them some help.”
Once there, Jones said he wanted Carey and the team to get a chance to check out the Indians’ new boys’ locker room. Jones said the girls utilized the facility and were impressed.
“Taylor Palmer said that was the nicest locker room she’s ever seen,” Jones said.
Once ready for practice, Carey was able to run his team through what he believed would be the offensive sets and defensive schemes utilized by Iowa State. The practice, he said, was a good one. The result of the game, however, was even better. WVU pulled off the upset Sunday of the nationally ranked Cyclones on their home floor – a place where they rarely lose.
“The practice was a great experience because they were so accommodating and Matt and (BHS girls basketball) Coach (Dave) Marshall were nice enough to make sure we had everything,” Carey said. “As it turned out, we were able to go win a game in front of about 11,000 fans against a team that has only lost at home once this year and that was to (top-ranked) Baylor.
“Maybe we should practice there before all of our road games,” Carey continued. “Heck, if I thought it would help I’d practice there before all of my home games, too.”