When last we left my beloved West Virginia Mountaineers, the football program was forced to alter some special Nike uniform graphics to get rid of what apparently was meant to be images of mountaintop removal mining (See previous posts here, here, here and here).
Now, as our state gears up for Sunday’s big WVU-Marshall game, coal and what it means to the state has been brought into the picture again.
First, we had this announcement of something they’re calling the “Mountaineer Mantrip“:
The inaugural West Virginia football Mountaineer Mantrip, a team walk set to rally WVU fans before each home game this season, will make its debut on Sunday, Sept. 4, prior to the No. 24-ranked Mountaineers’ 2011 season opener against Marshall at 3:30 p.
The walk, a nod to the state’s proud coal industry and heritage, will begin when the team is dropped off approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes before kickoff at the corner of the WVU Medical Center and Don Nehlen Drive. Fans are encouraged to line the path, which will take the team and coaching staff, led by head coach Dana Holgorsen, through the blue and light blue lots and to the entrance of the Northeast gate at Milan Puskar Stadium. The team will be escorted by the Mountaineer mascot, the cheerleading squad and members of the Pride of West Virginia, the WVU marching band, on its route.
And then yesterday, this news emerged:
Beginning this weekend and before every subsequent home game, upon entering the stadium, West Virginia Mountaineer players will touch a monument comprised of a very special piece of coal extracted from Upper Big Branch for additional inspiration before hitting Mountaineer Field.
Alpha Natural Resources delivered a 350-pound chunk of coal to Milan Puskar Stadium Wednesday. The coal came from the Upper Big Branch mine, where 29 miners lost their lives on April 5, 2010, Alpha officials confirmed.