University of Minnesota


When the University of Minnesota adopted the state’s nickname in 1887, the Gophers were born. It was not until 1952, 65 years later, that the school mascot appeared. Goldy Gopher came about when an assistant bandmaster bought a suit for a band student to wear at games. However, this idea failed because of the excessive heat and the low visibility the suit provided. Three years later, another band student was chosen to wear a new gopher costume, but this did not do the job either; the suit was much too large and the student’s glasses would fog, causing him to carry around a cane for sight.

As time went on, different band students would be given the responsibility of being Goldy. Each student brought something different to Goldy Gopher, eventually creating lasting traditions. These consist of playing tricks on the cheerleaders, climbing the goal post and spinning the head, to name a few. Not until 1990 was Goldy Gopher played by a non-marching band student. The job was opened to all University students based on the high demand at the increasing number of school events. No matter the variety of who plays Goldy, he will always be the most important symbol for the U of M, and will continue to embody the compassion and spirit of all Gopher fans.

Cheerleading was born at the University of Minnesota over 100 years ago. In 1898, student Johnny Campbell began leading organized cheers at football games, soon to be referred to as a “yell-leader”. These yell-leaders were developed to rile up the crowd and get them enthralled in the game no matter what the score. It began after an editorial in the school paper stated,“Any plan that would stir up enthusiasm for athletics would be helpful”. The yell-leaders were shown to be successful when soon after they started, the Gopher football team turned their 1898 loosing streak around. It was in the 1920’s, after gymnastics and dance became popular and integrated into the routines, that cheerleading became a prominently female sport.

Today, the Golden Gopher Spirit Squads are a vital part of the University atmosphere. When game day arrives, they are the ones whose sole job is to get the fans excited about the game. There are currently five different spirit squads at the U of M: a co-ed squad, an all-girl squad, a basketball squad, a hockey squad and a dance cheer team. The U of M cheer teams consistently place in the top of their division at championships, and the dance team has won the NCAA championship four years running.