Penn State University

NITTANY LION MASCOT & SPIRIT TEAM

The Nittany Lion Mascot was born in 1907, following a 1904 baseball game against Princeton. The team encountered the  symbol of the Princeton Bengal Tiger, Princeton’s indication of the merciless treatment Penn State could expect to encounter on the field. Since Penn State lacked a mascot, Senior and team member H. D. “Joe” Mason replied with an instant fabrication of the Lion, “fiercest beast of them all,” who could overcome even the tiger. Penn State went on to defeat Princeton that day. Over the next few years, Mason’s “Nittany Lion,”  named for the mountain lions that once roamed on nearby Mount Nittany, gained such widespread support among students, alumni and fans that there was never any official vote on its adoption.

During the game, everyone loves seeing the lion with its one-handed push-ups and crazy antics. However, when one loud section within the students exclaims “We want the Lion!” three times, the lion will climb up to the group, and while the Lion is laying on his back, the students “surf” him up to the top of the section. While it is usually a successful run for the Lion, sometimes the Lion stalls, causing students in a neighboring section to yell “Don’t drop the Lion!”

The Penn State Spirit Team consists of the Penn State Cheerleaders and the Penn State Dance Team.