Goldy Gopher chases national title

Mehgan Lee

Goldy Gopher, the University’s mascot, has cheered for the school’s athletic-events for approximately 50 years.

But now, Goldy is the one in need of cheering.

For the next 10 weeks, Goldy will take part in a competition that pits 12 college mascots against one another, in head-to-head matchups, for the title of Capital One National Mascot of the Year.

The matchups feature mascots vying for a woman’s attention and will be aired in commercials on ESPN and ABC, primarily during college football games, said Pam Girardo, a Capital One Financial Corporation spokeswoman. Viewers are encouraged to vote for their favorite mascot online at www.capitalonebowl.com, she said.

The winner of the third annual contest will receive $5,000 toward the school’s mascot program and recognition in a nationally televised campaign, Girardo said.

The contest, which Capital One and ESPN sponsored, aims to provide recognition to the unsung heroes of college football, Girardo said. Mascots can be some of the hardest workers on the football field, and they bring high energy to every game, she said.

“Capital One wants to give mascots their day in the sun,” Girardo said.

The mascots in the competition were named the 2004 Capital One All-America Mascot Team earlier this year, each receiving $5,000 for their school’s mascot program.

Approximately 239 Division I-A and I-AA athletics programs were invited to nominate their mascots to the team. A panel of judges chose the 12-member team based on the mascots’ interaction with fans, sportsmanship, appearance and community service.

Jon Hart, a University senior who works in the spirit squad office and coordinates Goldy’s appearances, nominated Goldy for the team. Goldy is curious, mischievous and always trying to think ahead to make the crowd laugh, Hart said.

“He’s really just a crowd pleaser,” Hart said. “He’ll do whatever it takes to make people happy.”

The mascot of the year will be chosen by popular vote from the Web site, combined with the judges’ scores from the earlier nomination process.

People can vote for their mascot online once a day, Girardo said. However, the votes are tracked by individual computers, she said.

“So the wise ones will also vote from home, from work and from a friend’s house,” she said.

Hart said he thinks a win for Goldy should be easy, because the University now has the second-largest number of enrolled students in the nation.

“We should be able to win this thing based on the pure volume of students we have,” he said.

But Hart said he still encourages students to vote every day.

“What happens in this competition will reflect our school spirit and the way we support our athletic department and mascot,” he said.

Girardo said the competition is “neck and beak” right now.

Goldy was 10th in the contest Sunday, with 72,430 votes.