Inspired by the passion and resilience of West Virginia University’s first female Mountaineer Mascot, Natalie Tennant, Mary G. Roush will become the third female in nine decades to don the buckskins and carry the rifle as the 68th Mountaineer Mascot.
Roush was named the 2022-23 Mountaineer Mascot today (March 5) at the men’s basketball game in the WVU Coliseum, becoming the first freshman to serve in the role and fulfilling her lifelong dream.
Prior to Roush, Tennant (1990-91) and Rebecca Durst (2009-10) have been the only women to serve in this coveted position since the first official Mountaineer was selected in 1934.
Roush, from Mason, knew from an early age that she wanted to attend WVU and serve as the Mountaineer, but from time-to-time she felt disheartened by others who would try to deter her from pursuing this male-dominated tradition.
However, as she turned to Tennant as a role model and source of encouragement, she felt empowered to challenge gender bias and fulfill her aspirations.
“Natalie encountered many obstacles as the first female Mountaineer Mascot at WVU and she faced adversity with dignity,” Roush said. “As a role model, she has helped me recognize that I also have the ability to overcome challenges and achieve my dreams.”
Roush, an advertising and public relations major minoring in sports communication who describes herself as “just a girl from rural West Virginia,” credits WVU with providing her opportunities to discover her passion and “an opportunity of a lifetime.”
A member of the Mountaineer Maniacs and Public Relations Student Society of America, Roush also serves as an intern with WVU Athletics Video, affording her the opportunity to attend multiple sporting events and help with broadcast video board shows.
“The Mountaineer is not just a mascot. It is a leader. And I will proudly lead my University and state with love and passion—my home among the hills,” Roush said. “I also hope to serve as an inspiration for young girls for generations to come.”
Roush was among the top four to vie for the Mountaineer Mascot. The others were Logan Moore, a graduate student from Winchester, Virginia; Aidan Priest, a sophomore from Baldwinsville, New York; and Gunnar Webb, a junior from Bridgeport.
Webb will be invited to take the role as the alternate Mountaineer Mascot.
Brooke Ashby currently serves as the alternate Mountaineer Mascot and Daryn Vucelik served as the first female alternate in 2013, followed by Savannah Lusk in 2016.
In a formal “Passing of the Rifle” ceremony, Roush will accept the rifle—and the responsibilities—of the Mountaineer Mascot from Colson Glover (2020-22). The event is open to the public and will take place April 22 at 6 p.m. at the Erickson Alumni Center.
To make a request, complete the Mountaineer Mascot Appearance Request Form. For additional information, contact Sonja Wilson, senior advisor of the Mountaineer Mascot program, at Sonja.Wilson@mail.wvu.edu.