MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia football will debut a black alternate uniform for the 2024 season that’s designed to pay homage to the state’s rich coal tradition and honor miners who work underground daily to supply energy around the world.

After the unveiling of new blue, gold and white uniforms at the annual Gold-Blue Spring game, the black alternate unform serves as an additional uniform set for the Mountaineers to showcase on select occasions. The ideas and designs for the black alternate uniform came from a day spent with actual miners.

“Our staff did a great job with the design and rollout of our traditional complement of uniforms last week. But we wanted to have an alternate that our student-athletes would enjoy and would connect with West Virginians,” WVU Vice President and Director of Athletics Wren Baker said. “If our football team was going to have a black alternate uniform, we wanted it to tell a story and it mean something to our fans. Every design element of the uniform has been researched, carefully thought out and implemented based on what our designers observed on their visit to the mine. Coal mining has a deep history in West Virginia, and the work ethic of coal miners is woven into the fabric of our culture. Our football team looks forward to honoring the rich tradition and history of West Virginia’s coal mining industry, and we are thankful to all our staff members who contributed to the design and implementation of these uniforms.”

The jersey focuses on elements that bring light to the darkness. A key emphasis of miner safety is reflectors throughout a mine that play a substantial role in underground work, safety and navigation. The numbers on the black jersey are a reflective twill, and the wordmark “West Virginia” and an outline of the state are in white to further bring light and complement the reflective twill.     

The pattern adorning the sleeves and collar of the jersey was sourced underground in a West Virginia coal mine. A photograph of a sheared mine wall was vectorized before proper palette colors were applied to bring the coal pattern to life. The sleeve design shares space with a reflective stripe to mimic the safety stripes of a miner’s uniform. Yet another key element of the jersey is the arm cuff pattern, designed to replicate the blade of a mine shearer. Known as the backbone tool of the mining operation, the tool aggressively cuts and is one key to a successful work shift.

The reflective safety stripes of a miner’s uniform are also incorporated on the side panel of the black pants along with the pattern of the same sheared wall of coal as seen on the jersey sleeves. The state outline in white adorns the upper right leg panel.

The final touch to a miner’s uniform and ultimate safety is the helmet. The “Black Hat” in the mines is the experienced miner, and the Mountaineers will don black matte helmets when wearing this uniform. The on-field helmet contains an outline of the state and specks of metallic gray in the paint to resemble the shimmer of fresh-cut coal. The center stripe features the coal pattern used on the uniform, but with a white to transparent gradient mimicking the light of a miner’s headlamp, which provides vision and safety underground.

With the help of retired West Virginia Coal Association President Bill Raney and Gaither Frazier from the Leer Mine in Grafton, West Virginia, athletic department graphic designers Kristin Coldsnow and Phil Lynch visited the Leer Mine to immerse themselves into a day’s work in a coal mine. Through the generous time granted by the Leer Mine officials, and in conjunction with Nike, WVU’s black alternate uniforms became a reality and serve to pay tribute to the work ethic and bravery of a West Virginia coal miner.

To support the coal-themed black uniform, the WVU Brand and Trademark Licensing Office has developed the “Built on Bravery” Collection. The Collection was created in collaboration with WVU Athletics and CLC who worked together with members of the West Virginia coal community to create a product line that complements the new football jersey and celebrates the coal industry. Fans should look for the Collection in stores later this summer and in the fall.


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