Willie the Wildcat (Kansas State)
Willie Wildcat impresses a young Wildcat fan
|University||Kansas State University|
|Description||A student bedecked in an oversized Wildcat head|
Adoption of the nickname
- 1906-1909: a black Labrador named Boscoe represented K-State at baseball and football games.
- 1915: Prior to the football season, new coach John Bender gave his squad the nickname "Wildcats."
- 1917: Under Coach Z.G. Clevenger the school teams became known as the "Aggies" or "Farmers."
- 1920: Coach Charles Bachman took over the football program, again renaming the team the "Wildcats." This time the nickname stuck.
- 1922-1978: A real bobcat named Touchdown (I-XI), served as team mascot at games. "Touchdown" could be found at Sunset Zoo in Manhattan until the 1980s. Touchdown I was injured in Idaho by an encounter with a porcupine and was donated to K.S.A.C. after treatment. The animal did not attend a college football game; it died from pneumonia shortly after it arrived in Manhattan. Touchdown II soon replaced TD I and was at K-State for 14 years.
The first costumed Willie mascot appeared in 1947. Willie has changed many times, and currently, has an appearance that is heavily influenced by the team's Powercat logo.
- 1947: K-State's first costumed mascot, "Sparky," appeared at the September football game against Oklahoma A&M. This was by Manhattan High student Andrea Simmons Andersen during halftime performing gymnastics for the crowd in a red-brown wildcat costume with black stripes and a tail. Lack of winning games resulted in fans replacing the young girl with a college student. She was to be the only female to be a K-State mascot. (First Generation)
- 1960s: Fraternity members took responsibility of wearing the Willie Wildcat costume and cheering at games. The original K-State Willie costume, which debuted in 1964, was purple in color with large ears that somewhat resembled Mickey Mouse. (Second Generation)
- 1967-1980: Sculptor Jim Hagan created a new, "meaner-looking" Willie head with coyote and wolf hair. (Third Generation)
- 1980-1993: A second Willie head made in 1967 by Jim Hagan is used.
- 1985: The "beefed-up" Willie appeared while still using third generation style head. (Fourth Generation)
- 1994-1996: Last pre-Powercat Willie (Fifth Generation)
Willie Wildcat is known to wear uniforms matching the team and sport he is attending at the time. Of these include Football, Volleyball, Men's and Women's Basketball, Baseball, and Soccer. Additionally, Willie is known to wear outfits specific for special events such as a tuxedo, biker garb for Harley Day, Army Fatigues for Fort Riley Day, costumes for Halloween, and various other outfits for themed nights.
In 1989, the Powercat logo was introduced by football coach Bill Snyder, who wanted a new logo to change the image of a program known at the time as a chronic loser. Tom Bookwalter, a Kansas native and K-State art professor, created the logo, a stylized wildcat's head.
In 1997, the current "21st Century" Willie was created. Willie has gray fur, with two white stripes to resemble the Powercat logo. This head weighs eleven pounds. Willie can be seen at various K-State sporting events, often dressed as an athlete. (Sixth Generation)
Willie is known to be tough but also mischievous. He is K-State's #1 fan. The student inside the mascot costume (whose identity is kept secret) changes every few years, and the persona of Willie has remained the same throughout. Willie has been known to crowd surf and he also does one push-up for each point on the board for K-State when the Wildcats score a touchdown or make a field goal at football games. He also leads crowds in his signature K-S-U chant in which he moves his arms in legs to form a 'K'-'S'-'U' then fist pumps to signal the crowd to yell "WILDCATS" 3 times in a row. Willie also signs various objects using his iconic signature, signing his name "Willie Wildcat" in which a paw print is drawn and used in place of the "W" in both words.
- Willie the Wildcat's History
- "Kansas State Traditions" (English). Retrieved 2018-03-31.
- Amy Preston, “Willie the Wildcat at center of K-State athletic events; History of K-State’s mascot goes back to 1922,” Kansas State Collegian Gameday, October 31, 2003, 8
- "Kansas State Traditions" (English). Retrieved 2006-09-27.
- "K-State Traditions" (English). Retrieved 2006-09-27.