Willie the Wildcat

willie the wildcat

In the early days of Northwestern’s history, the team's first mascot was not Willie the Wildcat, but a live, caged bear cub from the Lincoln Park Zoo named Furpaw. In fall 1923, Furpaw was driven to the playing field to greet fans before each game. However, after a losing season, the team decided Furpaw was the harbinger of bad luck and decided they needed a new mascot. The following year, a reporter from Chicago Tribune who was covering Northwestern's game against the University of Chicago Maroons described the football players as "Wildcats [that] had come down from Evanston." Thus Willie the Wildcat was "born" in the 1930s and continues to be one of the most recognizable symbols of the school today.

Willie is a common facet at many University occasions including Wildcat Welcome, Deering Days, Alumni functions, and various events at Norris. Students crowd around the beloved mascot to get their photo taken with Willie to celebrate their school spirit.