If you were a Fairmont State student in the early 80’s, it is very possible that you knew about Fairmont State’s cross country team—the Red Hot Pokers.
“One day the cross country team met up with other student-athletes in the Feaster Center for a pickup relay race and we needed a name,” said founding father Brian Hamrick. “We scrambled to find a name and I just shouted out ‘Red Hot Pokers.’ That was the beginning of it all.”
In addition to Hamrick, the founding members were Rick Dye, and Brad Martin. This team was like no other. They pushed not only themselves but also their team members beyond what was possible.
“We wore outgoing pajama pants and biker leather jackets while traveling to and competing in meets,” said Hamrick. “And we had a gang of plastic frogs that we placed at the race site. Other schools would see the frogs and they then knew the Fairmont State cross country runners had arrived.”
At that time, the cross country locker room was in an original part of Colebank Hall. Every locker was painted uniquely and a few bricks were painted in honor of winning conferences. This team broke running records, won the 1984 conference championship, and did it all with smiles on their faces, having the best time of their life.
Although the team is now spread out across the United States, they rejoined in late April 2018 to run the inaugural Falcon Alumni 5K hosted at Fairmont State including a few of the members who traveled by car from Florida. Even though the team was formed 38 years ago, their inner athletes were still present. A few members finished at the top of their age groups on race day.
Keeping with the tradition of making people ask “where did you find that”, Hamrick, wore his leather jacket from the 80’s to the alumni race this year. It was still adorned with the “Red Hot Pokers” painted logo. Other supporters and fellow group members wore red handkerchiefs during the race.
“It was great to be back on campus and to run with the Red Hot Pokers again,” said Hamrick. He even found time to meet with the current cross country team and presented them with plastic frogs of their own.
It was a pleasure to have the Red Hot Pokers and several other cross-country alumni back for the inaugural Falcon Alumni 5K. We look forward to it becoming an annual event, which shall support the needs of the Fairmont State Cross Country student-athletes.