For many college students, summer break is a time to relax and recharge. But College of Media rising junior Timmy Eads won’t have a single day off.
Instead, the Buffalo, West Virginia native will be donning custom buckskins and a coonskin cap while carrying a powder horn and a black powder rifle, representing West Virginia University as the Mountaineer mascot.
The Mountaineer has been WVU’s official mascot since 1934, and Eads is the 66th student to fill the role. And while being the Mountaineer is a once-in-a-lifetime experience few have the opportunity to experience, it is also hard work and much more time commitment than a full-time job. Eads will be driving thousands of miles across the Mountain State to more than 150 acting as a parade marshal and visiting elementary schools, hospitals, rotary clubs, day camps, sporting events and much more.
Eads does feel pressure to be at his best. Being a representative of the University, as well as the state, is a significant responsibility. He is not permitted to endorse any specific product or business as the Mountaineer and always has to be aware of his surroundings and how he conducts himself. “I’m one of the biggest public relations representatives for WVU. Everyone associates me with the University, and rightfully so,” said Eads. “It’s my duty to enhance WVU’s image, and I take that very seriously.”
As a public relations major at the College of Media, Eads feels well prepared during his outreach efforts as the Mountaineer. At each event Eads attends, he gives a speech and must adapt his script to fit his audience, regularly applying skills and knowledge he has gained in the classroom.
“When I think of the reason I wanted to be the Mountaineer, it all comes down to me wanting to give back to WVU and to the state of West Virginia as a whole. Never did I think that it could have such a huge impact on what my potential future would be,” said Eads. “The truth is that this is helping me better myself every single time I put the buckskins on. It’s helping me better myself for a future career, and that’s something I’m very thankful for.”
Due to the demands and time commitment on the students chosen, the Mountaineer Advisory Council has imposed a one-year term limit on serving as the mascot. In all, Eads will attend more than 250 events outside of University athletic functions during his tenure. His predecessor, Trevor Keiss, attended approximately 400 events in total.
Eads formally accepted the responsibilities of the Mountaineer on April 11 in a “Passing of the Rifle” ceremony at the Erickson Alumni Center and will continue in his role until the Gold-Blue football game next spring. He was chosen by a committee of faculty, staff and students who based their decision upon an application, essay and interview, followed by a cheer-off competition, where the candidates interact with fans held during a WVU men’s basketball game in the spring.
“Timmy did a phenomenal job in every step of the process, and we felt he represented all of the core values of a true Mountaineer. You can tell how much he loves West Virginia and WVU as soon as you meet him,” said Jayson Hamrick, WVU J.D. candidate and member of the Mountaineer Mascot Selection Committee. “We have no doubt that he will represent WVU and our great state terrifically over his year as Mountaineer.”
Prior to his role as the Mountaineer, Eads was an undergraduate communications assistant for the WVU Extension Services Small Farm Center, as well as an executive board member of the Mountaineer Maniacs, an organization that supports Mountaineer athletic teams and helps promote good sportsmanship and Mountaineer pride and tradition.
In high school, Eads was involved with Future Farmers of America (FFA), which inspired him to pursue public relations at WVU. FFA gave him the opportunity to participate in marketing competitions and public speaking, which sparked an interest in content creation and marketing. He is a 2018 recipient of the American FFA Degree, one of the organization’s highest honors awarded to less than one percent of members.
This summer, he’s most looking forward to giving back to the community that has given him so much.
“Being able to give back this summer means everything to me. This state and University have provided me with so many opportunities over my life,” said Eads. “To be able to represent them both daily all over is an experience that I value tremendously. I can’t say enough how incredible it’s already been.”
Q&AFavorite Mountaineer tradition?
Look at everything as an opportunity to get better.
One word to describe yourself?
Did you know?
Including Eads, four College of Media students have served as the Mountaineer.
Michael G Russell (BSJ, 1985)
Stuart Wolpert (BSJ, 1975)
Natalie Tennant (BSJ, 1991) became the first female to serve as the Mountaineer in 1990.