Walk into any WVU football or basketball game, and the energy is electric. Players hustle to crush the competition, fans chant and cheer, and music pounds. In the middle of the storm is the Mountaineer. Coonskin cap on head and rifle in hand, the mascot never seems to take a breath except to yell, “Let’s go … Mountaineers!”

But behind the buckskin suit and school spirit lies a long heritage, one that extends beyond the Mountaineer’s current trole as a collegiate mascot. That cultural history is exactly what WVU professor Rosemary Hathaway explores in her latest book, Mountaineers are Always Free. She examines the Mountaineer’s intersections between frontiersman and hillbilly, upstanding university representative and crowd rabble-rouser. At its heart, the book is a scholarly discussion about identity. Yet, it also presents nuggets of university history.

By the book’s last page, one truth becomes certain: The Mountaineer isn’t merely a single person. It’s an identity that’s grown to encompass generations of proud, hardworking folks who have called this place home. wvupressonline.com

posted on June 22, 2020


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Jess Walker
Written by Jess Walker
Jess Walker came to West Virginia to pursue her master’s degree in English, but stayed for the culture, nature, and stories. She writes for WV Living and Morgantown magazines. Her best ideas happen when she’s outdoors, preferably near a river and with a cup of coffee in hand.