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|University||University of Minnesota|
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Goldy Gopher is the mascot for the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus and the associated sports teams, known as the Golden Gophers, as well as the defending UCA Mascot National Champion. During the year, Goldy makes over 1000 appearances and is at virtually all home games for University teams, usually wearing the appropriate sporting attire.
Minnesota became known as the `Gopher State' in 1857, the result of a political cartoon ridiculing the $5 million Railroad Loan which helped open up the West. The cartoon portrayed shifty railroad barons as striped gophers pulling a railroad car carrying the Territorial Legislature toward the "Slough of Despond". The first U of M yearbook bearing the name "Gopher Annual" appeared in 1887.
Minnesota's athletic teams became widely known as the "Gophers" by the 1920s but it was not until 1934 that the immortal Halsey Hall, great Minnesota sportswriter and broadcaster, dubbed Bernie Bierman's all-gold uniformed team "The Golden Gophers" (Bierman chose the gold color because the football blended in with the uniforms!).
The embodiment of the Gopher mascot came to life in 1952 when U of M assistant bandmaster Jerome Glass bought a fuzzy wool gopher suit with a papier mache head and asked one of the band members to climb into it. "Goldy" Gopher (the first name seems to have appeared sometime in the '60's) became a fixture with the Marching Band and Pep Band, as each year a bandmember was chosen to don the suit for that season. Wherever these two bands performed, Goldy was there to glad-hand with the crowd, hug the little kids, torment the cheerleaders and generally add a friendly Minnesota flavor to the event.
During the early 1960s Goldy was actually written into the football pre-game and halftime shows with a specific place to be. Limited visibility from within the suit made it difficult to see out, and woe be to the suit’s wearer with glasses that would fog up while trying to peer out the mouth hole, as the eyeholes were useless. One benefit though – during those cold games at Memorial Stadium in November, Goldy Gopher was one of the few fans that stayed warm!
Each bandmember who through the years was allowed the joy of being the Gopher developed an individual personality, a unique way of relating to the crowd. And the mystique of Goldy Gopher became a tradition that absolutely prohibited removal of the head while in public, maintaining an illusion for the younger children that maybe, just maybe, Goldy Gopher was a real live huggable animal.
The style of the gopher suit changed many times through the years, sometimes by chance, sometimes by design. Until the early 1970's, the head was narrow and pointy-nosed, reminiscent of the real animal. Then in 1972, Goldy suddenly grew chubby cheeks and a wider, forward-looking face, almost cherubic in appearance. In fact, the gopher of the '70's and early '80's was comparable in appearance to a teddy bear, a favorite of children and grandmothers. For a brief period in 1985, a fierce-looking `mega-rodent' appeared, with barrel chest, clown feet and sinister eyes. This look didn't last long, and Goldy soon again became a lovable, friendly character.
From 1952 until 1990, the Gopher appearing at U of M sports events was a member of the Marching Band, and a symbiosis developed through the years that on more than one occasion kept Goldy out of trouble. With a propensity for attracting tail-pulling kids, Goldy relied on the band to save him from their clutches. And when the opposing team's cheerleaders or bandmembers managed to `kidnap' the unfortunate rodent (a Big Ten tradition, it seems), bandmembers would always come to the rescue.
In the late 1980s the U of M Athletic Department began to make use of Goldy at an ever-increasing number of events, and actually held University-wide tryouts to secure a number of students who could cover the busy schedule. The marketing wing of the Athletic Department officially took charge of Goldy in 1992.
The students that portray Goldy maintain anonymity throughout their tenure. They are also recognized as student athletes due to their vigorous schedule and amount of work that goes into it.
Portions of the above are from the U of M Marching Band Centennial Book, Minnesota Hats Off to Thee, ©1992 by The University of Minnesota Band Alumni Society
Goldy also competes in the UCA Mascot National Championships, and regularly makes the top 5. He placed 3rd in 2009 and 2010. Goldy won his first National Championship in 2011. In 2012, Goldy placed 5th, but in 2013, he won the championship again, giving him 2 wins in three years.
Goldy won the 2013 UCA Mascot National Championship, making it the second time he had won in three years.
Goldy was nominated to and made the 2004, 2007 and 2010 Capital One All-American Mascot Team. In 2007 he finished second to Zippy from the University of Akron.
- ↑ "UCA Mascot Nationals". Varsity.com. http://www.varsity.com/index.asp?article=1800. Retrieved 2011-09-01.
- ↑ "2011 UCA Mascot Nationals Results". Varsity.com. http://www.varsity.com/uploads/events/eventid_1434/files/Mascot.pdf. Retrieved 2011-09-01.
- ↑ http://tcstarlight.com/2013/01/18/goldy-gopher-wins-second-natty-champ-in-three-years/
- ↑ "Capital One Mascot Bowl History". Capital One Bowl. http://www.capitalonebowl.com/history. Retrieved 2011-09-01.
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