Who is the Ultimate Mountaineer Fan?
Three finalists in the Ultimate Mountaineer Fan Contest believe they are. The winner will have their T-shirt design become the 2019 official WVU fan shirt, and will be proclaimed the Ultimate Mountaineer Fan. Voting will take place up until 11 p.m. Monday.
To vote, go to: https://trademarklicensing.wvu.edu/fans/ultimate-mountaineer-fan
Mary Gabriele said she’s been a Mountaineer fan most of her life. She’s attended hundreds of games and even trekked through a snow storm to watch the WVU men’s basketball team take on Kansas. Her family has a long history with the university, and she said it’s engrained in who she is.
Her T-shirt design displays the flying WV as the “heart” of West Virginia.
“I wanted the state on the front and I felt that WVU is sort of the heartbeat of West Virginia so I wanted that in the center of the state,” she said.
No matter where she goes, Gabriele wears gold and blue and said it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, people always have a connection with WVU.
“If nothing else I am a passionate person, and a passionate fan,” she said.
John Schafer was honored to be selected as a finalist. His career took him away from the Mountain State and he lives in South Carolina.
“It never dimmed my enthusiasm for the school and for the athletics, so my wife and I have just made a pilgrimage back to Morgantown for years and years. We go back for all the home games,” he said.
Schafer hosts a tailgate party in the blue lot for every home football game. He said he and his wife always invite opposing fans to their tailgates.
His design revolves around the excitement Morgantown feels on a game day.
“That theme actually came from the fact that for several years on every game day I wake up at 6 a.m. and come up with some sort of inspiration message that I put on Facebook,” he said.
These statuses always begin with “it’s game day” and are followed by inspirational quotes demonstrating pride in being a Mountaineer.
Terry Keenan, a fan who has not missed a home game in 43 years, has attended every bowl game since 1981.
Keenan was in Vietnam is 1969 and at that time the Peach Bowl was on the Armed Forces Network. He said he never really got into WVU football until he watched that game.
“When I came home, I started trying to get tickets to go up there to the games, and so it just kept building and building,” he said.
He worked with his son and grandson to put the shirt design together. It includes “take me home” on the front and “let’s go” on the back.
The winner will receive tickets to the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Kan., but to Keenan being named the ultimate fan would mean more to him than going on the trip.
“I don’t think anybody’s more of a fan than I am. If you would come and see my Mountaineer collection and my Mountaineer room, you would see I don’t think anybody would come close to my Mountaineer memorabilia,” he said.
Keenan said former WVU football coach Don Nehlen has even seen his collection, and he couldn’t believe what Keenan’s compiled. He started collecting in the 1970s and has something from every bowl game since 1981.
“Nothing interferes with my Saturdays when it’s football season. I go, I don’t care. Ain’t nothing that stops me. I’m just thrilled to be a Mountaineer fan,” he said.