University of Minnesota


In 1857, a local paper published a cartoon satirizing a proposal for a $5 million railroad going through the state. It did this by portraying local politicians as gophers pulling a train. This gained the state the nickname of ‘Gophers’, which later spread to the University and its athletics. The ‘Golden’ portion of the current nickname ‘Golden Gophers’ was added about 80 years later, after the University’s sports teams donned gold uniforms. The school colors are now maroon and gold, with students proudly displaying them at all school events.

It was not until 1952, 65 years later, that the school mascot-Goldy Gopher-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.