Northwestern University

WILLIE THE WILDCAT & WILDPRIDE SPIRIT SQUAD

The first mascot at Northwestern was a live bear cub from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Named “Furpaw,” the bear was driven to the field for every game during the 1923 season. However, after the team’s losing season, Furpaw was deemed bad luck for the team and wasn’t allowed back on campus. The name “Wildcats” came shortly after, when in 1924, following a game against the University of Chicago, a Chicago Tribune reporter wrote that, even in a loss, the Northwestern football players looked like “Wildcats.” This name stuck and quickly became the official nickname for Northwestern. Nine years later, in 1933, the Northwestern athletic department teamed up with an advertising firm to create the first caricature of Willie. In 1947, the first mascot was actually brought to life when four members of the Alpha Delta fraternity dressed up as Willie for their Homecoming float.

The WildPride Spirit Squad includes Willie the Wildcat, as well as the Cheerleaders and the Ladycats Dance Team.