Will the real Goldy Gopher please stand up?

Two University departments field Goldy mascots – and try to remember which does what.

by Chelsie Hanstad

Watching from the bleachers, it might appear that the furry mascot frolicking on the football field is the same Goldy Gopher that was shaking hands and giving hugs at graduation.

But the University actually has two not-exactly identical Goldy costumes. Each is managed by a different University department – something that can complicate the task of maintaining a consistent image for the rodent.

The University is the only school with more than one costume for its mascot, said Beth Frees, assistant program director for Intercollegiate Athletics. As coordinator of the athletics department’s spirit squad, Frees also maintains the University’s original Goldy costume.

In the early 1990s, the University added a second Goldy Gopher to appear at public relations events, said Andrew Chelseth, the University Relations aide in charge of scheduling the department’s costume. This Goldy Gopher appears at graduations, alumni parties, fund-raisers and other events.

“It makes it a little more difficult because we’re out of two different departments,” Frees said. “Eventually, I think it would be wonderful to have one department manage Goldy so everyone is on the same page.”

It takes careful planning to make sure both departments do not send mascots to the same event or miss an event because each department thought the other was covering it.

Each department has different training and interviewing procedures for choosing who will be Goldy.

Each spring, the athletics department holds mascot tryouts, which include extensive workouts to ensure candidates are in shape. Personality and creativity are also important, so each hopeful puts on a skit with props and ideas to entertain a crowd.

Like all student-athletes, Goldys must be full-time students maintaining 2.0 grade point averages. They must also pass a test on University rules and regulations.

Those who make the cut are sent to a training camp where they practice the Goldy walk, attitude and personality.

“All mascots must be the same,” Frees said. “Goldy is not who you are. Goldy is already set.”

Before performing, those new to the position learn by watching the veteran mascots in action.

The training procedures for University Relations Goldy are similar but “not as extreme,” Chelseth said. After an interview, candidates put on the suit and are observed interacting with people.

“(The suit) takes some getting used to,” Chelseth said. Goldy’s head lacks peripheral vision – one of the reasons University Relations always sends an escort with the mascot. New Goldys serve as escorts before putting on the suit themselves.

The departments strive to get Goldy to look the same. The current costumes were manufactured by different companies, so they have subtle differences.

Frees said it has been decided that the University Relations Goldy costume should eventually be replaced with one identical to the athletics department’s costume, but for now, the $4,000 price tag is too steep.

“In the long run it would be wonderful to have all the Goldys look the same, and have the same outfits for licensing purposes,” Frees said.