Wolves Malashevich gives back to C-K Middle football program
KENOVA — Hard work has always driven Graeson Malashevich to be the best he could be on the field, on the court or in the classroom.
The Spring Valley High School football standout was the 2019 Gatorade West Virginia Player of the Year after racking up more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 35 touchdowns in his senior season with the Timberwolves.
On Friday afternoon, he used that title and the reward that came with it to give back to his community by presenting the Ceredo-Kenova Middle School football program with a $1,000 check to help offset the cost of reopening the football field in front of the school after having not been used for two years.
He didn’t just drop the check and make a break for it though. Malashevich took the time to talk with C-K middle school and elementary school students at the Wonderdome about the importance of keeping up with their work in the classroom in addition to any extracurricular activities they might be involved in.
“It’s cool to be able to come back and talk with them because I grew up here, had a lot of these same teachers, played on the same field,” Malashevich said. “It’s cool to be able to come back and contribute to the school. They are trying to build a new field and I’m just doing what I can to help.”
He remembers the days when he was in the stands at Spring Valley football games, hearing names such as Elijah Wellman echoing from the mouths of fans.
Wellman, a product of Spring Valley, played in 51 games for West Virginia University from 2014 to 2017 and went undrafted in the 2018 NFL Draft, but signed with the Washington Redskins and recently signed a reserve/future contract with the Redskins in late December 2018.
Now the dream has come full circle and Malashevich, who carried a 4.0 GPA through high school, was the recipient of fans’ cheers and knows his words carry plenty of weight when falling on the ears of youth.
He put the importance of good grades in terms those in middle or elementary school would easily understand.
“I want to try and correlate academic success to being really cool,” Malashevish said. “That’s what everybody in middle school wants to be. I want them to know that the coolest thing you can do is be smart, be a friend, and work hard.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is my hard work in the classroom that allowed me the opportunity to be able to play football and learn more at a great school. I want you guys to challenge yourselves every single day in the classroom.”
Malashevich was a highly targeted recruit and held offers from several schools around the country. Most notable, he turned down a full ride scholarship as a direct entry prospect to the United States Air Force Academy — with a net worth of a half-million dollars — in favor of an invited walk-on spot with the West Virginia Mountaineers.
He credited his success to his parents who pushed him from his early years as a Wonder all the way through his playing days with the Timberwolves.
His appearance in front of the students was on the brink of the start of 2018-2019 state testing which occurs at the end of every school year. C-K Elementary School Principal Deirdre Farley said it was an encouragement to her students to try their best.
“Everybody in the third, fourth, and fifth grade here has set a goal of what they want to get on the upcoming test,” Farley said. “Having him here to relay that message on academics is really good for our kids to hear because we have worked a lot on improving our test scores.”