UWP reveals new mascot

Alyssa Bloechl, Student Life Editor

It has been over 50 years since the University of Wisconsin-Platteville had a call from the Exponent to create a new, official mascot. Pioneer Pete represented the Pioneers until about the 1980s when the drawings were beginning to make him look like a drunken hillbilly rather than an upstanding figurehead.

“Various symbols of Pioneer Pete have been used,” said Paul Erickson, member of the image committee. “Not one image has been adapted to be university wide.”

This is the reason UW-Platteville has been the “Pioneers” but not had a mascot.

“I’m pretty excited to see the new mascot,” said Janice Rasmussen, senior criminal justice major. “It will put a face to the university, even if it is a squirrel, at least we will have one.”

Previous mascots included, Spirit the Horse designed by Torch Inc. in 1991, which eventually was determined unusable when Walt Disney released a movie about Spirit the Horse. In 2006, the committee hired a design company called Phoenix, and rejected the design of a monadnock after spending $16,000. A monadnock is a hill formation and was not seen to have fit the standards UW-Platteville was looking for.

Last semester the mascot image and subcommittees created and distributed a survey to better determine how the people associated with the university in any way felt about different mascot representatives.

Over 5,000 students, staff, faculty and selected alumni responded to the survey, about 2,000 of which were female.

“The best thing we ever did was the survey because it dispelled a lot of long-held beliefs and also showed that, number one, a mascot is important,” Erickson said.

A two-inch binder filled with ideas, drawings and statistics  kept Erickson and the committee members going during this long and drawn-out process. Parameters for creating the final image and physical mascot are rather extensive because this image is going to be representing our school for years to come. Colors, sizes, gestures and much more were deliberated extensively by the committee, with hopes that the final image will be widely accepted by UW-Platteville and throughout the state.

Set guidelines kept the image committee and the design company in line when determining how the new mascot would look. They include versatility, marketability, inclusiveness and its ability to embody the essence of UW-Platteville. Without these guidelines and the use of the survey, the final image wouldn’t be what the University needs.

Another concern with the committee was determining who would be the person inside the costume. There were auditions for students to be the mascot, and three were hired.

Elias Cox, a freshman elementary education major was one of the three males hired for the job. Cox was the Golden Eagle, Fennimore High School’s mascot, for the last three years. He learned of the job opening at UW-Platteville and applied this summer.

“I’m excited to do everything involved with being a mascot,” Cox said. “I will enjoy being the face for the university.”

Cox described his aspirations for his position, including working with the other two hired mascots on videos, dance moves and anything else pertaining to their job.

The new official UW-Platteville mascot will be unveiled tonight at the Yell like Hell homecoming contest in Williams Fieldhouse. Keep in mind the survey covered options including a horse, a dog and a miner among others, and no one but the committee knows what will be unveiled.

There will be official merchandise available for purchase at the event and on Friday, Oct. 18 in the University Bookstore.

Cox and his co-workers will not be performing in costume at all during Homecoming week, because the physical mascot is not yet completed. Before the end of the semester the students can expect to see the new mascot around campus. The Pioneer football team will be, however, adorning the new mascot image on their helmets for the 3 p.m. game against University of Wisconsin-River Falls at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium.