WVU Staff Teaching Mountaineer Mentality This Spring - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Staff Teaching Mountaineer Mentality This Spring

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MORGANTOWN -

The past two Friday mornings, you may have heard some loud, boisterous singing from within the Milan Puskar Center if you happened to be strolling by.

If you stopped to consider the source of the sound and strained to make out the words and the melody, you may have recognized what the songs were. In fact, if you happen to be a West Virginia sports fan, there isn't much of an excuse for not knowing the tunes.

Last Friday, it was John Denver's Country Roads, this Friday, the WVU fight song, Hail West Virginia. One song that plays throughout the stadium following every home football victory and one song that can be heard emanating from the West Virginia locker room should the team come out with a win.

The reason you will have heard these songs early on Friday mornings is because the WVU football team is getting a lesson in Mountaineer tradition and with that, the coaching staff believes learning some of these beloved refrains is a good place to start.

"Last Friday morning, we taught the group about the history of Country Roads. Half of them knew who John Denver was, and the other didn't know," WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said at his Thursday press conference. "You get guys from so many different states, and some of them don't understand the different traditions. It is our job to teach them that. We attempted to teach them the lyrics, and after we broke practice, we played it, sat there and enjoyed it. It is one of the best traditions in college football."

It is all part of this new motto that is floating around on t-shirts and on posters around the facilities: T.E.A.M. It stands for Toughness, Effort, Attitude, Mountaineer Mentality and it's that last letter of the acronym that we now focus on.

Holgorsen clearly covets the history of West Virginia and its football program, as evidenced by some of the new game day features he's brought to Morgantown and even the hiring of assistant coaches who have familiarity with the program and the state.

His goal now is to ensure that the entire team has the same affinity for and understanding of the people of West Virginia who watch their games and cheer them on each week in the fall.

"It would be hard to explain it in one small press conference," Holgorsen said. "We have talked about that a lot. We have taken different aspects in terms of what this program is about and who we are. We want to embrace different traditions, understand the past and learn about this great state. We want to educate them. How are all of our young kids going to understand all about it unless we educate them on it? We have taken a good portion of this spring semester and educated them."

The players seem to have embraced what they are being taught and some of the more veteran players are trying to ensure that the younger athletes keep these things in mind as they approach each day in the weight room, at practice and when the season starts a few months down the road.

"Taking on this Mountaineer Mentality, it makes everybody on this team embrace just being a Mountaineer," said senior defensive lineman Shaq Rowell. "There are 1.8 million people in this state, we just want them to know that every day we come out – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – we're going to give everything we've got in practice, just like they do at work, especially with those coal miners. That's what we look for. We look to work hard just like the people in West Virginia."

These are all lessons Holgorsen himself had to learn when he first arrived in Morgantown. He didn't just come with a cliff notes version of what he was walking into. He met with people around the state and found out more about the place that he would now be calling home.

It's something new students learn every year and something the head coach thinks should be no different for his group of student-athletes.

Holgorsen enlists different coaches each week to share a new lesson at the 6 a.m. workout and when the syllabus called for Country Roads, it was offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson who stood before the players.

"We didn't actually let him sing it," Holgorsen said. "The only way that would have worked is if we had a karaoke machine that could have overcome his actual voice. He can play the piano, which is impressive, but we don't let him sing."

However they get it done, there is more than just Xs and Os – more than just football, in fact – being taught at WVU practices these days. Take a walk early one Friday morning and you just may hear their next lecture. 

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