Everyone who tries out to be the Mountaineer at West Virginia University has an idea in his or her head of what it will be like when they put on the buckskins. For the past two years, Jonathan Kimble found out that the reality went far beyond any of his expectations.
“Seems like just the other day, I was standing at midcourt receiving the rifle,” Kimble said in an interview for this weekend’s WVU Coaches Show. “I’ve had some incredible experiences. I got to meet thousands of little kids and experience some of the most unique WVU sporting events in recent history.”
The night before the Gold-Blue Game, Kimble ceremoniously passed the rifle to the next Mountaineer: Michael Garcia. It was his last event serving as an ambassador for WVU and one of the university’s most recognizable faces.
His face isn’t so recognizable now.
It only took about a week before Kimble decided to shave off the trademark Mountaineer beard and find out what he looks like beneath all of the facial hair. He says he feels like a new man, and not everyone had any real idea who this new man.
Whether it was a casual WVU fan or a coworker or even his wife, people did double and triple takes when they Kimble showed up looking nothing like what they have come to expect over the past two years.
There are a lot of people who crossed paths with him in those two years. Kimble made it a goal of his to visit all 55 counties in West Virginia before relinquishing his duties. In March, he had been to 50 of them and with careful planning, he reached his goal in April.
“The state is truly awesome. No matter where I go, people cheer for WVU. They love the Mountaineers,” Kimble said. “A lot of them don’t have the chance or opportunity to come to Morgantown, so I can take a little bit of WVU, teach them the traditions, the cheers and give them an idea of what a Mountaineer football game will be like and those kids will have that memory forever.”
Kimble visited schools, spoke on WVU’s behalf at Big 12 media days, took pictures with fans for hours and experienced just about all of the highs and lows in the past two years of WVU sports.
There is one thing above all others that he thinks he will miss, and it may not truly hit him until football season rolls around:
“Being able to wake up Saturday mornings in the fall, lacing up my boots, putting on my buckskins and heading to the football stadium to tailgate for four hours before kickoff and firing the gun for every touchdown.” Take a look at behind the scenes as Kimble gets used to life after the Mountaineer and catch interviews with him and Garcia in this week’s season finale episode of the WVU Coaches Show.