Efforts underway at UVA Wise to create Ramseyers’ football scholarship

Mary & Bill Ramseyer

Alumni and friends of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise are raising funds to endow a scholarship in memory of the late Bill Ramseyer, the man who built the College’s first football team, and in honor of his wife, the woman who staunchly supported the players, cheerleaders, and the community.

The College was informed Thursday of Coach Ramseyer’s passing.

“Our prayers are with Mary and the family during their time of grief,” Chancellor Donna P. Henry said. “Coach Ramseyer will be remembered for the caring way he cultivated the College’s first football team with hard work and strong dedication. He was a legend who will be remembered fondly by his players and fellow coaches.”

Ramseyer passed away as the College announced plans to create the scholarship in memory of him and in honor of his wife. Plans to announce the establishment of the scholarship have been underway for several months. Henry added, “It will be our privilege to have his and Mary’s legacy live on here at UVA Wise through the Ramseyer Scholarship.”

Bill and Mary Ramseyer readily embraced Southwest Virginia when they arrived on campus slightly over 30 years ago to begin the daunting task of starting a football team at UVA Wise. They arrived to find a College that was eager to field a football team, even though plans for a stadium were a few years away. The Ramseyers never wavered in their dedication, and will forever be seen as the sparks that ignited a program that remains strong today.

“The Bill and Mary Ramseyer Football Scholarship Fund will provide scholarships for UVA Wise football players who exemplify dedication in the classroom, passion on the field, and a commitment to excellence,” former player Mike Owens from the Class of 1996, and Bruce Wasem, who coached the defense under Ramseyer and former head coach after Ramseyer retired, said in a letter announcing plans to raise money for the fund.

Those involved in the fundraising set a goal of $50,000, which would increase scholarship support to elevate the program as it competes in the SAC Conference in NCAA Division II.


The Ramseyers became the face of the Highland Cavalier Football team in the early days. Their work during the fledgling years helped those who followed

In what former players, coaches, and supporters of the Highland Cavaliers Football team call the positive impact the Ramseyers had on the program, including a hefty amount of belief and faith in the team and the region, the team had winning seasons after two years. In 1995, the Highland Cavaliers went 10-1 in the regular season and earned a postseason trip. In 1996, the team was undefeated in the regular season.

Ramseyer retired after the 2001 season and posted 280 wins.

To contribute online to the fund, visit giving.virginia.edu/wise and indicate in the special instruction box that the gift is for the Ramseyer Football Scholarship. Gifts made by check are payable to Ramseyer Scholarship Fund, UVA Wise Foundation, 1 College Avenue, Wise, VA 24293. Contact Sam Wharton III in the Office of Advancement, Athletic Giving at 276-328-0259.