The WVU football team is idle this weekend but when it returns to action, it will have an opportunity to create a special moment.
The brand new, state-of-the-art WVU Medicine Children’s Hospital, looked on the opposite side of the parking lot from Milan Puskar Stadium, had its grand opening a few weeks ago but the Mountaineers have been on the road since. Thursday will mark the first home game since the new facility has been open, which means a new era for the kids’ wave which become a cherished game day tradition.
After the Mantrip, the football team stands on the concourse of the stadium facing the children’s hospital and waves in unison to the kids and their families who are waving back on the other side of the windows.
Usually, this is a shared moment between the athletes and patients with fans looking on, but former WVU quarterback Jeff Hostetler, who was instrumental in the new hospital’s developments, sees an opportunity to make the tradition even more impactful.
“We want to make our kids and families here in the hospital feel special, so standing up here numerous times while we were under construction and looking over it and thinking ‘wow, look at the captive audience we have.’ Also knowing our football team goes through the man walk, they stop over there and they all turn and wave. It got me thinking why can’t we as an entire parking lot, an entire group of tailgaters and wave at the same time?” Hostetler said in an exclusive interview for the Neal Brown show.
“We have this new facility and we can light up the hospital and that will signal everybody in the parking lot that it’s time to turn,” Hostetler said. “The Mountaineer shoots off the musket, the athletes start to wave and we all follow. What a powerful statement for our kids and families here and a show of support.”
The partnership between the football program and the children’s hospital has blossomed over the past four decades. The impact it has had on the lives of the patients and their families is reflected in The Hostetler Famly Resource Center.
It is located on the top floor of the hospital and that’s the area where the wave takes place. As part of the new facility, it mimics the inside of the WVU football locker room to reflect the partnership. There’s even a small press box area for the kids inside.
Now it’s an opportunity for Mountaineer Nation to get involved in a tradition that means more than they could ever know to those looking on from inside the hospital.
“I challenge everybody out there, when it’s game time, turn, look and wave,” Hostetler said. “Let’s do something awesome here in the state of West Virginia.”
The Mantrip will not take place on Thursday before the Baylor game as the Blue Lot doesn’t open until 5 p.m., but the kids’ wave will still take place after the team enters the stadium.