West Virginia University is taking on a new challenge this fall when it begins competing in the Big 12 Conference. Because this is such an exciting time in the school’s history, the WVU Varsity Club is working to make sure all former student-athletes remain connected during these exciting changes.
Varsity Club director Dale Wolfley, a former Mountaineer offensive lineman, is hoping to continue to grow the WVU Varsity Club into a 1,000-member strong organization annually and he is placing new emphasis on continued involvement with all activities relating to the University.
Last summer, the Varsity Club launched a new program, “Drive for 1,000,” with the goal of having 1,000 total members by the start of football season. Wolfley’s hope is that with WVU joining the Big 12, former student-athletes will come to Morgantown with a renewed excitement.
“Our athletes are coming back to campus in record numbers and they are joining the Varsity Club in record numbers,” Wolfley said. “We need everybody to jump on the bandwagon now that we are joining the Big 12. [Getting into the new conference] is big for everyone.”
This year, the Varsity Club is planning their annual weekend reunion in conjunction with WVU’s first Big 12 football game against Baylor. The activities will start Friday, September 28th, when Varsity Club members will be marching in the Homecoming Parade down High Street in downtown Morgantown. The following morning, members will be treated to a pregame tailgate party, complete with food and entertainment.
However, the Homecoming game isn’t the only time Varsity Club members will be able to tailgate with their friends and former teammates. Wolfley has organized a Varsity Club tent in “Tent City” before every home football game, as well as other reunions and events for former Mountaineer athletes throughout the year. A quarterly newsletter is sent out, keeping members up-to-date on all the changes within the department, as well as informing them of upcoming events.
Wolfley began his work in 2010, and this year he is continuing to incorporate more sports into the Varsity Club’s yearly activities. To date, the Varsity Club has had reunions for all but one team and Wolfley wants every player, no matter the sport, to feel appreciated each and every time they return to Morgantown.
“They are always surprised that Morgantown has changed so much, but the biggest thing when they come back is that they are so happy just to be asked back,” Wolfley said. “That’s the biggest thing. They are part of our family and [WVU Director of Athletics] Oliver [Luck] has changed all that.”
To help increase numbers even more, Wolfley has implemented additional ways for former student-athletes to keep in touch with each other. Beginning this year, the Varsity Club is going to have an online listing of all its active members in hopes that teammates and classmates alike will be able to reconnect with one another.
“Hopefully they will look at this and say ‘Hey, I want to contact them’ and they will contact me and we can get them hooked up,” Wolfley explained.
Wolfley emphasizes that college is where lifetime friendships are formed, and he has first-hand knowledge of how close members of a sports team can be having played for Don Nehlen in the late 1980s.
“[College] is that time of your life that is very special. Some of my best friendships happened in college,” said Wolfley.
Using his personal experience as motivation, Wolfley hopes that former players and coaches alike will continue to do whatever they can to keep former athletes connected with West Virginia University.
Above all, Wolfley wants every Varsity Club member to be remembered and feel appreciated.
A Varsity Club membership for former student-athletes, coaches, administrators and department support personnel is only $25 per year. Lifetime memberships are also available for $1,000; those 65 and older can get a Varsity Club lifetime membership for $500.
Log on to http://www.wvuvarsityclub.com
or check out the Varsity Club’s Facebook page
for more information.