Behind every team is a loyal group of supporters willing the squad to success.
Such is the case for the West Virginia University wrestling program. The Mountaineers rely on a group of dedicated backers to help sustain the level of success achieved by the program, and the introduction of the Tim Flynn era last spring has inspired a longtime fan and supporter of the team to make a gift to the program.
The Mendenhall family has generously pledged $50,000 to help support the West Virginia Regional Training Center (WVRTC). The substantial donation was given in honor of their father, Robert, who passed away in the summer of 2018, and was an important step in growing the WVRTC and raising awareness of the WVU wrestling program both locally and nationally.
"We did this to honor my dad," said George Mendenhall. "My father, Robert, and his brother, Jim, wrestled at WVU in the late 1940's. My brother, Bob, and I wrestled there and my sister, Sandy, was a WVU cheerleader and gymnast in the 1970's. My mother, Sue, also graduated from West Virginia, as well as my brother, Tom, who has been working alongside my father at their Mack dealerships in Wheeling and Clarksburg for the past 35 years. We bleed Gold and Blue, and we have done our part as far as donating to the WVU wrestling program."
The Mendenhall family has a long history with WVU athletics, and the support of the program means a lot to them.
Following four years in the Navy fighting in World War II, Robert accepted a wrestling scholarship to West Virginia in 1947. While at WVU, Robert qualified for the NCAA Championships his senior year and was later inducted into the WVU Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1994. Of note, he also won two state titles at Parkersburg High prior to joining the Navy.
"The Mendenhall family is an exceptional family," said former WVU wrestling coach Craig Turnbull. "Robert and his family's support over several decades has enhanced the WVU wrestling program's ability to pursue excellence. Their support helped grow two of WVU wrestling's endowment funds and assisted in the fruition of the state-of-the-art wrestling facility. And now, they have demonstrated their support with their generous gift to the WVRTC. Robert was always there to encourage and support the program, but he never wanted any recognition."
The Mendenhall family's donation to the WVRTC is just the beginning of future success, as the RTC gives wrestlers a better idea of what it means to be a senior-level athlete, and in turn, adds a recruiting tool for prospective Mountaineers who wish to continue their careers and success beyond the NCAA level.
"The top programs in the country have the very best RTC's and the most funding," Flynn said. "Our WVRTC is crucial to our program's success."
The Mendenhall family hopes their recent donation will help impact additional support and influence others to step up and give back to the program. Providing the necessary tools and resources to Flynn and his staff will undoubtedly aid the program in becoming a national contender once again.
To donate to the West Virginia Regional Training Center, please contact Tim Flynn at 304-293-9871 or TFlynn@mail.wvu.edu.