The West Virginia Mountaineer in the official mascot of West Virginia University (WVU). Selected annually since the 1930s from the university’s student body, the mascot is a popular tradition of the school. There is a bronze Mountaineer statue in front of the Mountainlair, WVU’s student center, which was dedicated in 1971.
The West Virginia Mountaineer in the official mascot of West
Virginia University (WVU). Selected annually since the 1930s from the
university’s student body, the mascot is a popular tradition of the school.
There is a bronze Mountaineer statue in front of the Mountainlair, WVU’s
student center, which was dedicated in 1971. The bronze statue was commissioned by Donald DeLue, the renowned sculptor whose works also grace the Gettysburg battlefield and Omaha Beach in Normandy.
The Mountaineer is a member of
the student body chosen for outstanding enthusiasm, character, service to the
community, and academics. The mascot symbolizes the proud and rich heritage of
the Mountain State and its people.
The mascot appears at athletic,
community, and alumni events to promote Mountaineer spirit.
Candidates apply to become the
Mountaineer by writing essays about why they want the position. From there,
they are interviewed by Mountain (WVU’s secret honorary) members and
representatives of the athletic department and student affairs. The top
candidates are then invited to cheer-off at the next-to-last home
basketball event each season. There, the candidates are judged and the
Mountaineer is announced at the season's last basketball game that is played at
In 1934, Lawson Hill became the first official Mountaineer mascot. Boyd H. Slim Arnold,
a physical education major from Bayard in Grant County, was the first
Mountaineer selected to serve three years in succession (1937-38-39) and was
the longest tenured until Rock Wilson equaled it in 1993. (1991-92-93).
During Arnold's tenure, he became
the first Mountaineer to wear the now traditional buckskin uniform. Minutes of
Mountain meetings from the late 1930s indicate that a donor gave the honorary
several deerskins asking that a buckskin costume be made for the Mountaineer.
Prior to that, the Mountaineer wore overalls, a flannel shirt, coonskin cap, a vest,
and carried a rifle.
The post and tradition has
remained relatively unchanged since that time. The costume is tailored to fit
each year's winner, and male Mountaineers customarily grow beards during their
tenure. The rifle is a true flintlock that requires the user to become knowledgeable
in the amount of powder required to fire the charge.
In 1991, Natalie Tennant of
Fairview became the first female selected as Mountaineer. Tennant went on to serve as the Secretary of State of West Virginia from 2009 until 2017.