By Beth Christian Broschart
The generosity and determination of a Barbour County teacher and coach have once again gained recognition. Philippi resident Nick Mayle was nominated and has been selected as one of the Best of Us, a contest sponsored by the food company Johnsonville.
Coach Marcus Johnson and Nick Mayle, of Philippi, pause for a photo during their journey to Canton, Ohio to raise money for Barbour County middle school sports.
The Best of Us competition is for educators and community celebrations that go above what they are required to do. Mayle was nominated for his One Step at a Time program that helped raise funds to save middle school sports in Barbour County. The county Board of Education had eliminated all middle school sports coach positions earlier this year due to budget constraints.
To raise funds to continue the sports programs, Mayle and several others walked from Philippi to Canton, Ohio, a journey more than 170 miles long, during the school system's spring break. The trek began early on a Monday morning, and ended that Saturday afternoon at the Pro Football Hall of Fame with a banquet reception.
"I was nominated by a parent in the community, Melissa Freeman," Mayle said. "I had no idea about the nomination until she sent me a message asking if it was OK, and saying she had nominated me. She said she received an email stating her nomination was chosen to be in the top 10."
Freeman said she was happy to nominate Mayle for the honor.
"When I got the e-mail from the Johnsonville site that they were having this contest I clicked on the link and listened to the promotion ad about this contest," Freeman said. "When I heard this man describe what kind of educator they were looking for, it made me think of Nick, especially when he said, 'It only takes one person at a time' to make a difference. I do not know Nick Mayle personally but I do have a child in Philippi Middle School that was on the basketball team this past year and he really likes Nick."
Freeman said she decided to nominate Mayle because she felt that he is an inspiration to all local kids.
"His message is clear: never give up on something that is really important to you," Freeman said. "I feel that he really cares about our kids and is a great role model for them. Nick did not know that I did this and I didn't tell him until I got the email from Johnsonville that his nomination was accepted into the contest."
Freeman said her son, Cody, was excited about the contest.
"He said to me 'Mom, I think you should let him know,'" said Freeman. "So that is when I sent him a message on his Facebook page and told what I had done. He was very humbled and has thanked me for this. I just hope that he does win this and that everyone will vote when the time comes to show him our support."
The Johnsonville website states, "Johnsonville called on the nation to help identify and celebrate the unsung heroes and activities that make America great."
The winner will be selected by online public voting, set to begin May 23. The top vote taker will win $10,000. The remaining nine nominees receive $1,000 each. Anyone can vote for their favorite story.
"I never expected anything like this and I am extremely humbled and honored by Melissa Freeman's nomination," Mayle said. "If I were to win $10,000 I would tithe 10 percent to the church, pay what taxes need to be paid on winning, and take my lovely wife on a real honeymoon, due to the fact that we got married while I was still in college, and she had to sacrifice a lot during the One Step at a Time walk.
"The remainder of the money I would use to give back to the community in some way, either setting up a scholarship for students or donating it around the county," he said.
The website for voting is bestofus.johnsonville.com. Mayle's description on the website reads, "Nick Mayle goes above and beyond the call of duty as a teacher and coach at a West Virginia middle school. When his school's athletic program was threatened due to lack of funding, he created the One Step at a Time program to raise funds to save the kids' sports programs. As part of the program, Nick and several others walked from West Virginia to Ohio in just five days to raise money one step at a time."