When an individual believes in himself and his ability, that person is capable of accomplishing great things.
Such is the case with former Carmichaels High School athletic standout Bobby Hathaway.
Hathaway began his journey in athletics at an early age.
“I got started early with baseball and basketball,” said Hathaway. “I didn’t play football until I was in sixth grade. My grandfather Fred Stuvek played football at West Virginia University and my uncle Fred Stuvek was a quarterback at the Naval Academy. I gave up baseball in ninth grade to concentrate a little more on football.”
Hathaway’s career trajectory in football mirrors the success of the Carmichaels football program. The Mikes were 8-2 in 2000 and Hathaway, who played tight end and linebacker, scored three touchdowns that season.
Hathaway shared duties at fullback and played linebacker as a junior in 2001. Carmichaels went 7-3 and Hathaway scored 12 touchdowns.
Hathaway was moved to running back and continued to play linebacker as a senior in 2002. He responded with a breakout season by rushing for 1,455 yards and scoring 24 touchdowns as the Mikes captured the Tri-County South Conference title. The Mikes defeated Bishop Canevin, 42-7, and Fort Cherry, 32-0, before bowing out of the playoffs with a 34-21 loss to Rochester.
“We improved each year and my senior year, I was able to slide in at running back,” said Hathaway. “The summer before my senior year I went to lots of football camps at Ohio State, West Virginia, Pitt, William & Mary and James Madison, and seeing players from all around the country built my confidence and the team really got better. We had played ball together since we since we were kids.
“I think I enjoyed offense because I felt like I could get some harder hits on the offensive end. It was a great senior year and the offensive line did well. For Single A, we had a pretty decent-sized offensive line. We peaked at the right time. I got the opportunity and it paid off. It was a great senior year.”
Hathaway had a great relationship with former Carmichaels football coach John Menhart.
“He was a great coach and a great person to have in my life,” offered Hathaway. “Growing up with his son, Jono Menhart, who was one of my best friends, and still is. I grew up around coach Menhart.”
Hathaway was named all-conference three years in a row, Uniontown Herald-Standard Offensive Player of the Year as a senior and Post-Gazette Fabulous 22. He was the offensive MVP of the Tri-County South Conference All-Star game.
Hathaway also excelled in basketball at Carmichaels.
The Mikes finished 14-8 in 2000-01, losing to Avonworth in the WPIAL playoffs, 78-48. Hathaway scored 285 points as a sophomore.
Carmichaels went 17-6 in 2001-02 and lost to Aliquippa in the district playoffs, 90-41. Hathaway scored 373 points that season.
Carmichaels posted a record of 16-7 in 2002-03 and fell to Monaca in the WPIAL playoffs, 57-48. Hathaway averaged 18.3 ppg as a senior and was named All-Section 5.
“I think we all benefited in a small town playing more than one sport,” explained Hathaway. “Most people played at least two sports We always competed together. We had some strong basketball teams. We didn’t have a lot of height, but we had a lot of athletes on the team.”
Hathaway enjoyed playing for legendary Carmichaels hoops coach Don Williams.
“I grew up watching coach Williams,” Hathaway said. “My older brother Rick played for him. Coach Williams was great.”
When Hathaway graduated in 2003, he went largely unnoticed by major Division I football programs. The top student in his class at Carmichaels, several Ivy League schools coveted the bruising, two-way player. Division II schools were interested, too.
“I wanted to play Division I football and West Virginia gave me an opportunity as an invited walk-on,” Hathaway stated. “Some of that was the year before my senior year going to those camps. That was good exposure seeing the talent and building confidence. I really felt like I wanted to give it a shot and I was going to give it my all for two years and see how I did.”
Hathaway dressed for games his first year, but was red-shirted. The following season, he earned a spot on special teams and even had a kickoff return against Central Florida. All the while, he was earning a reputation at practice.
“I felt like I had to go and lay people out,” Hathaway said. “Players were telling me, ‘Just chill out, relax.’ I was like, ‘You have a scholarship. It’s nothing personal.’”
Hathaway earned notice on special teams during the 2004 season. Then, n the off season, he further gained the respect of Rodriguez.
That’s when he and legendary WVU fullback Owen Schmidt, then a walk-on, worked a construction job in Grafton, W.Va. It required waking up at 5 a.m. and using a 90-pound jackhammer.
“After that, we’d get to the stadium to eat lunch with the team, then go through the team workout,” Hathaway said. “We were exhausted, but I was in the best shape of my life.”
Hathaway and Schmidt were put on scholarship in July, 2005.
Hathaway moved up the depth chart at WVU and was part of a great period in Mountaineer football history.
WVU went 8-4 in 2004 and lost to Florida State in the Gator Bowl, 30-18. The Mountaineers finished 11-1 in 2005, the lone loss was to Virginia Tech, 34-17.
“I still remember the 2006 Sugar Bowl,” Hathaway said. “It was January 2006 and (Hurricane) Katrina hits, so they moved the game to Atlanta and we played Georgia. It was so loud and I’m calling plays on defense. I had to scream so everyone could hear me. I still get goosebumps thinking about that game.”
West Virginia defeated Georgia, 38-35.
WVU was 11-2 in 2006, losing to Louisville (44-34) and South Florida (24-19). The Mountaineers downed Georgia Tech, 38-35, in the Gator Bowl.
WVU finished 11-2 in Hathaway’s senior season in 2007, losing to South Florida, 21-13, and suffering a crushing loss to rival Pitt, 13-9, which cost the Mountaineers a shot at playing for the national championship. Coach Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan and the team rallied around coach Bill Stewart to beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, 48-28.
“It was fun playing for those teams,” recalled Hathaway. “It was surreal coming from a small single A school, how fortunate I was to get an opportunity to play on some of those teams and to play with guys like Pat White and Steve Salton.
“The loss to Pitt was tough and the coaching situation, no one expected anything from us and we stepped up and went out with a bang against Oklahoma.”
Hathaway played in 45 games at WVU and recorded 55 solo tackles, 59 assisted tackles, 10 tackles for loss and had one interception.
“It was just a great feeling. I wouldn’t go back and change it even if I could,” said Hathaway. “It was a great decision to go to West Virginia.”
Hathaway, 36, lives in Morgantown, with his wife Andrea, who were married in 2010. They have two children, Ella (7) and Mara (5). He worked for United Rentals for 13 years in various capacities and is now a district sales manager.
George Von Benko’s “Memory Lane” column appears in the Sunday editions of the Herald-Standard. He also hosts a sports talk show on WMBS-AM radio from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.