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8-year-old is South Charleston's 'No. 1 fan'

Chip Ellis
Noah Workman, a student at Montrose Elementary School, is presented with a "No. 1 fan" award and Black Eagles football gear by South Charleston High School football coach John Messinger. Noah's school aide, Kent Rymer (left) takes the boy to football games when he's not helping him with schoolwork.

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston High School football coach John Messinger could hear one voice cheering above the rest during last week's victory over Riverside.

"Every time I heard a great, loud cheer, I looked and it was him," Messinger said.

The enthusiastic fan was Noah Workman, an 8-year-old with spina bifida who cheered from his wheelchair on the sidelines.

"They gave me a special sidelines pass. They don't usually give those out," Noah said. "I'm keeping it in my room."

Noah, who is paralyzed from the waist down, cheers at West Virginia University football games, too, and travels to Morgantown frequently for hospital visits.

"I probably won't ever play football, but I can throw one pretty hard -- usually between eight and 20 yards," Noah said. "We were just watching this one, though. We tailgated, too. I had a lot of blue Powerade."

Football games are just one of many things Noah and his school aide, Kent Rymer, do for fun outside the classroom.

Noah is a third-grade honors student at Montrose Elementary School.

"I never, ever, ever forget to do my homework. I'm pretty smart," he said. "I'm not sure what I'm going to be when I grow up, but I want to do something with numbers."

Rymer helps Noah get from class to class and assists him during physical education class and other strenuous activities.

"He's the son I never had. He just bubbles over -- always smiling and happy with life," Rymer said. "Yes, he's physically handicapped, but he will go very far in life. I'm certain of that."

Noah is pretty fond of Rymer, too.

"We're buddies, like two peas in a pod," he said. "We even go to the same barber and dentist and didn't know it."

When Rymer introduced Noah to Messinger at last week's game, the coach wanted to do something special for him.

"I couldn't stop thinking about the little guy. I've got a soft heart for him," Messinger said. "It means so much to us to have our young kids supporting us, and it's important that we at the high school reach out to the younger kids."

Messinger and South Charleston High School Principal Michael Arbogast made a surprise visit to Noah's class at Montrose Elementary on Thursday afternoon.

Noah was named South Charleston High's official "No. 1 fan." His classmates and teachers cheered Noah on Thursday as he accepted an honorary plaque, the No. 1 jersey and other Black Eagles gear.

"Our football team is only as good as our fans in the stands -- and Noah is a great fan to have," Arbogast said. "We're so proud, and we're so glad to be a part of this community."

Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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