PHILIPPI - Walking 172 miles to Ohio is not too far for Nick Mayle to make a point and raise money.
The teacher and head football coach at Philippi Middle School was "in disbelief" when he heard that sports programs at the school were on the chopping block.
"Our county at this time is financially strapped," Superintendent Joe Super said. "This is not a recommendation that I enjoyed making, or wanted to make."
The board postponed voting on the programs until today for time to sit down with parents on the Barbour All-County Sports Association.
"I agree that education is our main priority," Mayle said, who is part of that group.
But players also learn hard work and discipline through athletics, he said.
Every year, at least three or four eighth-graders list professional athlete as their career goal, no matter how remote the odds, Mayle said.
"You're not going to sit there and tell them they can't do it," he said.
The middle school age range "is the most important" for developing athletes, Mayle said.
He hopes to raise $50,000 by July by walking to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, during spring break.
He wants the money to pay for proposed cuts and whatever the teams need. He'd also like to replace the roughly decade-old uniforms his team wears now.
"It's be nice to be able to do that," Mayle said.
But the clock is ticking. The Bulldogs have already learned about games being cut.
Coaches' positions - if cut - may not be reinstated until the day before school begins, he said. That's late in the game after schedules have been made.
"You wouldn't have anybody to play," he said.
The total budget for the middle school coaches is $34,000. The coaches are paid stipends and have insurance and retirement benefits, according to Mayle, who makes $2,500 as a coach.
Mayle said he is buying three pairs of shoes for the trek, and may rent an RV to sleep in on stops.
Marcus Johnson, the assistant football coach and head basketball coach for Philip Barbour High School, will join him.
Though at first, "he said I was kind of crazy," Mayle said.
Besides the money, the lesson for students is that if they want to be pro athletes, they have quite a challenge ahead - like their coaches.
"It's going to be a long journey. It's going to be tough," Mayle said. "It's going to symbolize if you work hard, you can get to the top."
To raise money, Nick Mayle, teacher and head football coach at Philippi Middle School, is walking 172 miles to Ohio's Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, over spring break.