CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In his last outing in a Kelly green Marshall University football uniform, Tony Bolland took a loss, but he saw a win in his last outing in the forest green of the State Police.
"It's a good feeling," Sgt. Bolland said Monday after seeing the Thundering Herd take down the University of Maryland Terrapins.
Bolland, 48, was a defensive tackle for the Herd and was on the 1987 team that played for the NCAA Division I-AA National Championship against Northern Louisiana but lost by one point.
He's worked on the State Police game day security detail for Marshall's players and coaches for nearly 20 years and has been with the team through its ups and downs. He was happy to end that relationship with a victory at the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md. Friday.
"That loss back in '87 is still a loss but I got to retire from the State Police and see them come out on top," Bolland said.
The Rand native spent 25 years with the State Police. He'll turn in his guns and cruiser today and hang up his campaign hat for the last time.
He told his wife, Tammy, Monday morning it would be the last time she saw him in uniform. She smiled and took his picture before he left their Cross Lanes home for the South Charleston detachment.
He didn't have any inclination to be a police officer until college. His cousin, who later went on to be a Kanawha sheriff's deputy, was studying criminal justice at Marshall University, so he thought he'd try it out.
His feelings started leaning toward police work after someone broke into the home of his sister, Beverly.
"They didn't find out who broke in to Bev's house," he said. "That made me mad. I wanted to do something to help."
After graduating from Marshall in 1988, he thought at first of applying for a job in federal law enforcement, but wanted to stay close to home in West Virginia. His thoughts then turned to the State Police.
Bolland knew a few troopers and he considered the State Police "West Virginia's finest" law enforcement agency.
"They were a high-class and prestigious organization," Bolland said. "I knew I wanted to be with the best. If you're going to do something you do it to the best of your ability."
He took a job as a corrections officer at the day report center in Charleston. He was there about three months before he received the letter that he'd been hired at the State Police and would be heading to the State Police Academy for training.
Bolland was initially assigned to the South Charleston detachment and then to Interstate patrol, which also was based in South Charleston. He later was assigned to the Quincy detachment, but returned to South Charleston a few years later.
He said being a minority on the force is "just something you deal with."
"Something may be major to someone else on the outside looking in, but it's just normal to me," Bolland said. "Sometimes you've got to be a little thick skinned, but I didn't have too many troubles."
He recalled once responding to a call along Chestnut Street in South Charleston where a man needed help at his home. Bolland didn't remember what the man needed but can still remember what the man said to him as he stared.
"He said, 'I ain't never seen any of you before,' referring to me being a black trooper," Bolland said with a laugh.
Bolland was a "poster child" of sorts for the State Police and was used in recruitment videos. A friend of his, Sgt. Mike Oglesby, told him that seeing the advertisement made him want to be a trooper, too.
In addition to patrolling and supervising younger troopers, he also has worked with Lt. Reggie Patterson to recruit more minority troopers and until recently served as the agency's Affirmative Action officer. His task in that position was to take reports and investigate claims of discrimination in the workplace or hostile work environments.
He started working with Marshall in the mid-1990s. Another trooper, Rob Cunningham, was also a former Herd football player and asked him if he'd be willing to help out with security for games.