Leah Welty has memories of ‘home’ and Nick Saban

Published 6:13 pm Thursday, December 2, 2021

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Leah Colley Welty of Troy was watching the Iron Bowl Football Classic on Saturday afternoon and baby sitting or, maybe, she was baby sitting and watching the game.

Either way, Welty had reconciled herself to the fact that her team, Alabama, was not going to win. Why watch? So, babysitting took precedent.

However, when Welty returned to the TV, the game was in overtime and “Bama wins!! Bama wins!”

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“I was an Auburn fan first and later a Bama fan,” Welty said. “But, I’m in the minority when it comes to Alabama /Auburn football. I root for Auburn to win unless they are playing Alabama.”

Auburn was playing Alabama on Saturday so “Roll Tide!”

Welty is a Bama fan for good reason. She and her late husband, Mike Welty, were cross county neighbors with the Sabans in the foothills of West Virginia. “And you can’t live in West Virginia and not be a Nick Saban fan,” Welty said. So, when, in 2010, Saban was to be honored in Marion County at two events hosted by the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, the Weltys were there.

At the chamber dinner, Leah Welty was acknowledged as a true Alabama fan and Nick Saban welcomed her to join him for a photo.

That was the next best thing to an Alabama win in the Iron Bowl, Welty said, laughing.

At the chamber events, many stories were shared about the legendary coach. Going back to his high school football days, it was told that the coach of the Monongah High team put young Nick Saban in as quarterback, “and we never lost another game.” Memories were shared of Saban’s dad, Nick Saban, Sr., who would drive a bus around and pick up his young team, practice and drive them home again. One of the senior Saban’s sayings was “Treat people kindly on the way up; you’ll meet them again on the way back down.”

Saban said many people had a positive influence on his life and each has a part in the national championships.

What he learned from his high school coach, Earl Keener, has been a part of his coaching philosophy. “The plays aren’t as important as the players and how you use them.”

“Coach Saban said he learned early in life how important community is and was very grateful for having grown up in small close-knit town,” Welty said.

“He knew every house in Carolina and every person knew him and would correct him when he needed it. He said that was what the people in this community did for him.”