25th Anniversary of the first female WVU Mountaineer: Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant

Updated 4 years ago
 25th Anniversary of the first female WVU Mountaineer: Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant

Charleston, W.Va. – This month marks the 25th anniversary that West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant was chosen as the West Virginia University Mountaineer Mascot.

            In 1990, the 22-year-old broadcast journalism senior from Fairview was the first woman to ever be given the honor of donning the buckskins, coonskin hat and musket.

            At the time, not everyone believed her appointment was historic. To some, it was a controversial choice.

            “Some fans did not believe the iconic WVU Mountaineer could be represented by a woman. I was spit on, called names and told to go back to the kitchen,” Secretary Tennant said. “I didn’t let it get to me. My pride in my school never faltered. My time as the Mountaineer was one of the best experiences of my life.”      

            On the wall in the Secretary of State’s Office, Secretary Tennant proudly displays her musket and photos from her time as the Mountaineer. She also has a scrapbook full of old newspaper clippings from her senior year as the WVU mascot in her office.

            WVU began the tradition of an official Mountaineer mascot in 1934. There have been 63 different Mountaineers since then.

            “It’s a special club and one I am honored to be a member,” Secretary Tennant said. “On this 25th anniversary, I remember the young girl who simply wanted to represent her school and never wanted her selection to be a gender issue. I was young, but just as passionate about WVU and the state of West Virginia then as I am now.”

            The current Mountaineer, Michael Garcia, is a former intern for the secretary of state’s office and also from Marion County.

"Natalie has never stopped being the Mountaineer, and we celebrate with her the anniversary of her selection as WVU's first-ever female mascot,” Garcia said. “She still embodies the pioneering, get-there-first spirit of all Mountaineers. And the buckskins suit her well."

            To view old photographs of Secretary of State Natalie Tennant as the Mountaineer, please see attached images

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