Fan Day a hit among WVU faithful
Published: Monday, August 20, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 20, 2012 01:08
There has been an unprecedented amount of hype surrounding the West Virginia Mountaineers’ inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference.
It has never been more evident as droves of Mountaineer fans amassed outside the indoor Caperton Indoor Practice Facility Sunday Aug. 12, in order to participate in the 2012 West Virginia University’s football Fan Day.
The preseason excitement had finally reached a breaking point.
"I’m in Morgantown," said Andrew Kiger, a lifelong Mountaineer fan and finance major at WVU. "It can’t get any better than this."
The fandom convention was set to begin at 1 p.m. but due to excitement, the doors opened early.
Thousands of fans, some who had been waiting outside since 5 a.m., poured into the facility with jerseys, posters and helmets in hand, hoping to obtain autographs from their favorite Mountaineer players and coaches.
It was an endless sea of blue, white and gold-clad members of the Mountaineer faithful, all eager for the newest chapter in West Virginia’s rich history of football traditions.
"Absolutely more people are here than there have been the last few years," said 36-year old Brad Waldo. "I think about four or five years ago it was about this big, so it’s good to see the excitement of all the people coming out and fans showing their appreciation for the team."
There was no real discernable demographic among the scores of Mountaineers supporters; it was truly a convergence of fans of all ages. Families, students, senior alumni and youths flocked to the indoor facility for a chance to get a photograph taken with the Orange Bowl trophy, grab Geno Smith’s autograph or even share a few words with the newest Mountaineer mascot.
Current WVU student and lifelong Morgantown resident Andrew Page said the biggest draw of Mountaineer fan day for him was the chance to catch up with a couple old friends and teammates.
"I definitely want to see (Ryan) Nehlen," Page said. "I went to high school and played football with him. I had classes with a couple of the other guys too, so it’s just cool to be able to stop by and see how they’re doing."
Assistant coaches also joined the players and Holgorsen in signing autographs and shared some inspiring words and high-fives with the younger kids.
"It’s great," said Parkersburg native Dru Saunier. "My goodness, just look – tremendous amount of kids here. These are tomorrow’s fans."
Inwood resident James Chancey echoed Saunier’s sentiments in regards to the experience for the impressionable youth. Chancey, his wife and their two young children, Conner and Regan, made the three-hour trip to
Morgantown mainly to introduce the Mountaineer tradition to the next generation.
"A couple of future Mountaineers, hopefully," Chancey said. His daughter sported a Mountaineer cheerleading outfit while her younger brother sported a shirt that simply read "future Mountaineer quarterback."
"They just love it," Chancey said. "They get to interact with the players they watch on TV. I don’t think they even care about the autographs as much as just seeing the players, being where they are, being in their environment.
"It’s just great, it’s a great experience."