MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The buckskins were soaked as Trevor Kiess rose to his feet from the turf at Mountaineer Field. It was a mixture of rain and sweat after completing 52 straight pushups following the Mountaineers’ final score against Youngstown State.
Kiess, the 2018 Mountaineer Mascot, has plenty to do when WVU pushes the ball into the end zone.
“If you want to see a good show, watch me after a touchdown,” said Kiess in a recent interview for West Virginia Outdoors. “I’m throwing things around and reloading, then getting ready for pushups.”
When the games are in Morgantown, a touchdown means an immediate shot from the .45 caliber muzzleloader and then a rapid reload since another shot is expected after the extra point. It may not be the kind of pressure the original Mountaineers had to endure, when a quick reload may have been the difference in eating or starving or possibly living or dying, but there is an added degree of difficulty for Kiess with 60,000 sets of eyes on him–especially in a driving rain.
“Trying to tamp the powder down close enough and waiting long enough that there’s no risk of a cook off. That’s always in the back of your mind,” said Kiess. “It’s a balancing act after that touchdown, shoot, reload, shooting again, and then getting in those pushups.”
With Will Grier and a stable of talented receivers, Kiess’ pushup regimen may rival that of Marine Corps boot camp by season’s end.
Kiess, like every other Mountaineer before him, is a product of West Virginia.
“I don’t think it’s a requirement that you be from West Virginia to be the Mountaineer, but we definitely have an advantage,” he explained.
Kiess grew up in Elkins and spent his early days hunting in Randolph and Tucker County. His first deer came along the banks of the Cheat River in Tucker County.
“It was on our farm in Tucker County during youth season,” he explained. “I’ll never forget it, I was about nine or ten and had an over/under .222 and Dad and I were walking through the field. It’s a memory I’ll never forget for sure.”
Like most in West Virginia, deer season is as much a family reunion as a hunting trip.
“Every year we head up to Adolph, West Virginia. I’m 23 and I’ve never missed a deer camp,” he explained. “Every year my dad, my uncle, and my cousins we all gather at deer camp to do what we love.”
The football and basketball season may cut into his hunting time this fall, but look for Trevor to be there at least for opening day of rifle season.
Kiess realizes the hefty responsibility of his role. The Mountaineer is one of the most highly visible symbols of the university and in many ways the state. It’s a role he embraces and cherishes with a heart forged hunting and fishing in the mountains of West Virginia.