There have been 63 different Mountaineers at West Virginia University. They start at the Coliseum cheering on teams. And then head out to Mountaineer Field to cheer on the football team at Mountaineer Field. But every Mountaineer has to hang up the buckskins and pass on the rifle.
"It's been a great two years to be an ambassador for WVU," said Jonathon Kimble, the former WVU Mountaineer Mascot. "As we went forth in the Big 12 Conference, I got to go to Texas, Iowa State, and bring them here to show them the beauty of West Virginia and Morgantown. Just the people I've met, the experiences I've had at the Children's Hospital, elementary schools, and the fans I've met have been some of the greatest ever."
Kimble has made it his mission to visit every county in West Virginia. He completed that goal on his final day as the Mountaineer Mascot, Friday.
He will officially pass on the rifle to Michael Garcia, a Fairmont native, Friday evening. Garcia says a lot of his push to become the Mountaineer came from Kimble.
"When he was announced my freshman year, that kind of just sparked an interest. It just made it seem more meaningful to me," said Garcia. "It's more than just a mascot and I kind of learned a lot about that over the past two years. That was just the spark, seeing him get so excited and so enthusiastic over something that represents our university. It really made me proud."
Being the Mountaineer is a huge commitment and honor. Garcia already started scheduling events that he will be attending the week he begins wearing the buckskins.
Kimble is sad to have to pass those responsibilities on to Garcia Friday at 7 p.m. in the Erickson Alumni Center.
"It's going to be different waking up on a Mountaineer football game day, not being able to put on the buckskins and being down there on the field," Kimble said. "It's been a blessing and an honor to represent the school and the state and to be able to travel with the football and basketball teams and to be able to cheer them onto victory."
Garcia hopes to follow in Kimble's footsteps outreach to the community.
"I want to reach out and meet as many people as I can. I think that's one of the perks of being the Mountaineer I get to meet a lot of people," said Garcia. "And that's going to be interesting, it's going to be fun, I think I'm going to learn a lot about the state and the people that make up the state. That's really who we are, we have borders around us but it's really the people that make us who we are."
If you want to see Michael Garcia in action, you can head out to the Gold and Blue game at Mountaineer Field on Saturday.