More than just a suit Evolution of the Linfield mascot, from “Baptists” to “Wildcats”

On December 3 of 1924, The Linfield Review announced the students’ choice of the wildcat as their mascot. Before that, students rooted for the Baptists. Now, the wildcat is one of Linfield’s most iconic symbols along with the red and purple and the acorn. But there are a few things people don’t know about the mascot, namely who the person behind the mascot is and the mascot’s name.

There are many people who are the mascot. Anyone can put on the suit.

“I like to think that it’s symbolic, that anyone can fit into Linfield and be the wildcat,” Amy Bumatai, multicultural department intern, said.

Dan Fergueson, the director of college activities, had a less figurative view of the situation.

“We don’t have a good process for [choosing the mascot],” Fergueson said. “We’ve tried tryouts. We’ve tried asking. What often happens is members of the cheer team ask for folks or folks ask me. I often turn it back on the person.”

Sometimes, the mascot will also randomly show up at certain events, such as finals, but the place it’s most often used is on the football field. On average, Fergueson believes the mascot suit is used 20-30 times throughout the year.

“There isn’t a set budget for the replacement of the costume,” Fergueson said. “This is the second head that has existed in my 12 years and the third body suit.”

The wildcat has also looked a little different in the past.

“The college went through a branding process three years ago,” Fergueson said. “It was across the board, an update for the institution. The new image uncrossed the eyes and changed the number of whiskers. It has five on each cheek now. It used to have six on one and seven on the other.”

Wildcat Wednesday is a new event that has come to Linfield. Every Wednesday, students wear Linfield colors and the wildcat runs around the campus. Linfield chose its colors in 1917. The colors are cardinal red and purple, both symbols of wealth and prestige in the Middle Ages.

“The brand image did have some change here as well,” Fergueson said, “Where it spelled out purples as our primary athletic color.”

Rumors have long surrounded the mascot’s name. No one is really sure what it is because it doesn’t have an official name. Debbie Harmon-Ferry, director of alumni relations, is working to change that.

“It was an idea Dan Fergueson raised,” Harmon-Ferry said about the Name the Wildcat contest.

To nominate names for the contest, students, alumni and staff can go to www.linfield.edu/namethewildcat. Once the nomination period is over in early March, a panel will narrow down the choices, so students, alumni and staff can vote within the list. The wildcat will have a name later this spring.

“[We’re looking for names] that fit the college and our character,” Harmon-Ferry said. “It’s like picking a name for your child. You want something that is going to fit but people won’t make terrible nicknames out of.”

At any rate, the wildcat will always represent the best side of Linfield’s welcoming community. Jenny Morgan, community engagement and service intern, remembered a story about the wildcat on a rainy night when an athletic team had just returned from a game.

Article by Gilberto Galvez/Features editor

Layout by Kevin Nelson/For the Review

Gilberto Galvez can be reached at linfieldreviewfeatures@gmail.com

The wildcat pauses for a picture at an athletic event with junior Ivanna Tucker.

Photo courtesy of Linfield Wildcat

The wildcat stands beside the snowman he just built.

Photo courtesy of Amy Bumatai

The wildcat makes an appearance at a sporting event.

Rosa Johnson/Copy editor

The wildcat frolics in the snow in front of Pioneer.

Photo courtesy of Amy Bumata

The wildcat poses at a high school event with Erin Rush.

Photo courtesy of Linfield Wildcat

The wildcat’s first incarnation didn’t include the
sailor’s hat. It was popularized by Paul Durham.

Photo courtesy of Linfield Atheltics

The wildcat signs Linfield’s 154th birthday banner. The wildcat itself was 88 years old.

Photo courtesy of Linfield Wildcat

The wildcat dances around the track for a sporting event.

Rosa Johnson/Copy editor