Natalie Tennant was the first, and until last year the only, female to don the buckskins and carry the rifle emblematic of West Virginia University’s Mountaineer. Now, she has been joined by current Mountaineer Rebecca Durst.

That’s 56 men, two women since 1934, not counting three “unofficial” men who were Mountaineers before ‘34.

Clearly, a male dominated job.

Tennant, the current Secretary of State for West Virginia, and Durst will address those issues in an address to the WVU community on women performing nontraditional roles in athletics.

Tennant and Durst will discuss “Gender Discrimination and Bias: The nature of challenges of living up to the male persona of the Mountaineer” on Monday, Feb. 8 from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in room 172 of the WVU Coliseum. Steven Pope, director of the WVU International Center for Performance Excellence, will serve as moderator.

This presentation will allow Tennant and Durst to talk about their experiences as the only two female Mountaineer mascots in WVU history.

“The goal of the presentation is to share with students the nontraditional roles of women in sport and athletics,” explained Floyd Jones, associate professor of sport management.

“The discussion will highlight the impact those roles have on career choice, the conflict that comes with breaking tradition, and the barriers and personal challenges that must be overcome,” he added.

“Natalie and Rebecca will share the ultimate rewards and success that may be achieved by meeting the challenges of what some may consider nontraditional roles in sport.”

Tennant, a seventh-generation West Virginian, is a native of Fairview in Marion County. She graduated from WVU in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She went on to attain a master’s degree in corporate and organizational communication from WVU in 2002.

Tennant was selected in 1990 as the first woman to ever represent the university as the Mountaineer mascot.

Durst, current WVU Mountaineer mascot and Point Pleasant native, is a sophomore pre-nursing major who has been involved in the WVU Student Government Association, Adventure West Virginia and Makeover Morgantown.

Pope received his Ph.D. from the University of Maine. He is author of “Patriotic Games: Sporting Traditions in the American Imagination, 1876-1926,” editor of “The New American Sport History: Recent Approaches and Perspectives” and co-editor of “The Routledge Companion to Sports History.”

Pope was a Leverhulme Research Fellow at De Montfort University, United Kingdom in 2003 and served as program leader of American Studies at the University of Lincoln, United Kingdom between 2004 and 2008.

The presentation is sponsored by the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, sport management major, and is open to students, faculty, staff, and the general public.

For more information, contact Kim Cameon at 304-293-0827 or



CONTACT: Kimberly Cameon, College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences