— KEYSER, W.Va. — Michael Garcia, the new Mountaineer for the 2014-15 athletic season, echoed what Dale Wolfley said about everyone being Mountaineers and that he was proud to represent the university as well as the state.
Except, for one year at least, he is the Mountaineer. With the coonskin cap, the buckskins and the trademark musket.
“I thought about doing this two years ago,” he said. “A fellow by the name of Jonathan Kimble, the previous Mountaineer, I saw how he got into it and showed the pride — not a personal pride — but the pride for the school and the pride for West Virginia.”
Garcia, a political science senior from Fairmont (W.Va.) and a graduate of Fairmont Senior High School, tried out for the Mountaineer as a junior but was turned down as Kimble was essentially re-elected for a second year.
“I was discouraged, very discouraged” he said, “After that, I decided that I’ve got one year, one year for me to try and do this. After that year of not being the Mountaineer, I was a better person and for me, that’s what a Mountaineer is. I can’t tell you how much I’ve grown as a person because I’ve tried to uphold the ideals of every student, faculty member and worker at the university and the people that call this place home and the people of this state. I truly believe that’s what
matters is the people of this state.
“It’s so difficult (bearing the burden of a whole state) but at the same time, it’s such a great opportunity to try and do something worthwhile and be an ambassador. I want to show people that I go to this university and I am so proud of it and go yell it from the roof tops and tell them I am a Mountaineer and that is why I am successful.”