The Mountaineer is a West Virginia staple. Sure, there are other colleges, but both natives and lovers of the state can call themselves a true Mountaineer.
Every year, WVU hand picks a new, beardy mascot to wear the aged buckskins and carry the wooden riffle. This year, a 20-year old man named Timmy Eads had been the face of this state and university.
Normal people wake up on a Saturday morning roll around in bed until the clock strikes an embarrassing hour. But for Timmy, he’s usually 30,000 feet in the air. He’ll probably have some headphones in or will be asking for some water with his thick West Virginian drawl, trying not to nod off as he flies to another football game.
But it hadn’t always been that way.
Small town Timmy grew up in Buffalo, WV. Before growing a beard and shooting his musket every score (or at least, wanting to – tough season), he hadn’t always had this life. In fact, the first time he stepped foot on an airplane was when he became the mascot.
He came to Morgantown three years ago, leaving a town of 1,000 people behind. Those teachers, old friends and neighbors still have his back.
“You don’t know the true meaning of support until you’re from a small town,” he told me.
And boy, do I understand.
Almost everyone moves away from their hometown, even if just for a year or less. Some quickly realize that there will never be a place like home, while others never return. Still, the neighbors, streets, hollers that raised them will always be there. But the one that uprooted and planted elsewhere will always care about home. There is no running from it.
Timmy graduated from a single A high school, smaller than any high school in Wyoming County. Not too long ago, he got to run out with his old high school football team in his Mountaineer outfit. Everybody seemed to love it. His heart was overflowing.
It’s funny how he came from such a small place, and three years later, his face is on television screens across the nation.
Still humble. Still small town. Still a true West Virginian boy that loves his truck.
A few days ago, Timmy got to ride down to Welch with the president of WVU. They talked about college. They talked about new horizons and new chances, which, sometimes, kids down here don’t hear too often.
It’s good work. It’s honest and pure. Being a Mountaineer is having that chance to be a part of something bigger than the university or college sports. Most of the time, it’s about taking the time to actually listen and talk to kids from all over the state. It’s someone who will inspire them to switch the narrative.
If we could all be some kind of mascot, life would be great. We would take the time to make sure people had a smile. We would actually get to know the kids in our communities. We would push for their success.
It’d be nice.
I’m sure Marco the Bison is nice, too.
Hannah Morgan, a native of Wyoming County, is attending WVU in pursuit of a career in journalism. Her email is at email@example.com.