Roy Williams visits WV for GameChanger event

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

Hall of Fame basketball Coach Roy Williams (University of North Carolina) came to West Virginia this week with a simple message–our kids need us in the fight against substance use. 

“This is something that’s dear to my heart,” Coach Williams said before a panel of political leaders. “I had teachers in my elementary and high school days that meant a great deal to me, and I tried to follow them as opposed to my father. My father was an alcoholic…and I saw some of the bad things.”

Williams attended the GameChanger Golf Classic at The Greenbrier. GameChanger is a program begun by Joe Boczek, which seeks to overcome substance use in West Virginia youth by utilizing proven peer-leadership recovery programming. Athletes, coaches, and administration from across the state including Bob Huggins, Gorgon Gee, Charles Huff, Mark Manchin, Kevin Jones, and many more attended the event. 

Meg Bulger, a former WVU women’s basketball player and sister of WVU football legend Marc Bulger, served as emcee at a Wednesday dinner. “Everyone is here for a reason,” she told the crowd. “The lives of every youth and adult are threatened. The family unit is in danger of becoming extinct. But West Virginians are resilient, and our kids want to change their lives.”

GameChanger Executive Director Joe Boczek agreed now is the time. “Four years ago, I had a thought do something about the drug problem in West Virginia. We are making strides. If a kid never tries a drug, we don’t have an addict.” 

GameChanger is currently operating 12 pilot programs across the state in school districts. West Virginia Superintendent of Schools David Roach reported that those programs are making progress. “Educating our kids involves more than academics; we must keep our kids safe. Dora Stutler in Harrison County is an example of how we can lead the way with students.” 

Emphasizing the bipartisan nature of the recovery effort, GameChanger brought together Governor Jim Justice (R)  with Senator Joe Manchin (D) and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R) to discuss policy solutions for substance use in the state. West Virginia continues to lead the nation on overdose deaths according to a recent finding from the Centers for Disease Control. 

“Mark it down,” Boczek told the crowd emphatically. “West Virginia will take the lead against this formidable enemy (substance misuse).” 

Stay tuned to The Real WV for updates on GameChanger programming in state schools.

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