The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

March 9, 2014

Fairmont native named next Mountaineer

FAIRMONT — The riffle has been passed.

Fairmont native Michael Garcia was named West Virginia University’s new Mountaineer Saturday.

The announcement came at the eight minute mark of the men’s basketball team’s eventual 92-86 upset win over No. 8 Kansas at the WVU Coliseum.

“They handed me the riffle and I just went crazy,” said Garcia, a 2011 Fairmont Senior graduate. “I got the entire arena going with a 'Let's go Mountaineers chant.' That was pretty incredible.”

Garcia, a junior political science major, earned the title after an extensive application process that included five essays and two letters of recommendation. A committee also took into consideration his GPA, university involvement and community service participation.

He was one of four finalists last year, and ramped up his efforts to take home the title this year.

“I put a lot of work into this,” Garcia said. “I felt like it paid off.”

In addition to playing the part, Garcia also has to look the part. He said that he last shaved in 2012, though he has trimmed the facial hair from time to time. He classifies his beard as “clean-cut.”

“It’s long, but professional,” he said.

The lifelong Mountaineers fan developed his passion for sports early on and remembers traveling to games as a youngster.

“I always knew I wanted to go to WVU. It was the only school that I applied to,” he said. “I've always had a very sincere passion for it.”

Garcia succeededs Jonathan Kimble, who has held the title for the past two seasons.

The transition will be made official on March 11 during the Passing of the Riffle ceremony. Garcia’s first official duty will be to lead the WVU football team onto the field during the annual Blue and Gold game on March 12.

Chelsi Baker contributed to this report. Email Mike DeFabo at mdefabo@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.

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