The Mountaineer Special Appearances Form
One of the most beloved of all West Virginia athletic traditions, the Mountaineer first appeared at WVU sporting events in the late 1920s.
Daily Athenaeum articles indicate that designating individuals to serve as the Mountaineer started as early as 1927. Clay Crouse was designated that year followed in 1932 by Burton Crow and then Bill Fahey. Others may have served. However, it was not until 1934-35 when trackster Lawson Hill was selected by Mountain that a more stable process was established. By 1937, the Mountaineer was being selected on an annual basis by Mountain.
The Mountaineer is a member of the student body chosen by Mountain 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.
However, the Mountaineer doesn't just have responsibilities associated with athletics. The mascot is expected to appear at community and alumni events to promote Mountaineer spirit statewide.
Candidates apply to become the Mountaineer by writing essays about why they want the position. From there, they are interviewed by Mountain 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 final basketball game.
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 sheep or bear skin type vest and carried a rifle.
The post 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 schooled in the amount of powder required to fire the charge.
In 1991, Natalie Tennant of Fairview became the first female selected as Mountaineer.