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It's Our Turn: What makes a true mascot?

(Blugold) Chip E. Wa, the official Blugold mascot of University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. Fear him. (Contributed)

When District 206 released their new Cardinal mascot, the information went up in flames overnight. Members of the community were in outrage. Good or bad, it amazed me how much time and effort people took to express their opinion on this change.

It brought me back to my college days. I attended the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire (UWEC) and we were the Blugolds. Our school colors were blue and gold, that’s really all there was to it. We didn’t have a mascot, just a name, which didn’t bother me in the least bit. I came from Detroit Lakes and was a Laker, so it’s something I was used to.

During one of my first years, there was a plea from some students that we were in desperate need of an actual Blugold mascot. They were essentially tired of being asked, “What is a Blugold?”

We were given a campus wide vote on whether we should have a mascot and an overwhelming response decided that we, as students, embodied the Blugold.

To us, it wasn’t about a logo or someone dressed in costume to appear at games. It was about our school spirit. We had the drive to be the best possible versions of ourselves, and we knew that attending UWEC would help us get there. Excellence was our measure, our motto, and our goal.

The word “Blugold” embodies a certain spirit. It’s a state of being rather than a thing. Being a Blugold is having a sense of empowerment and drive.

Alas, two years later another call for a mascot surfaced. Whether it was the new wave of underclassmen or the upperclassmen changing their minds, it was decided that UWEC would develop a mascot.

Talk about a huge change. I personally come from a family full of Blugold alumni, so I’ve only ever known it to be nothing more than a factor of school spirit and pride.

What was once a mystery was now a flamboyant mythical bird named Chip E. Wa. I wish I was kidding, but the truth is my college is now represented by a man in tight spandex wearing a costume formed from sequins and feathers. The powerful Blugolds, everyone.

True Blugolds, the ones who bleed the colors, don’t let this phase them. We know that deep down, a Blugold is not what flaunts around on the football field, showing off feathers of glitter and boots of gold. A Blugold is the spirit that lives in each student, teacher, and alumnus. The spirit is what we make it, and the spirit is what truly matters.

With that, my dear friends, do not dread the possibility of a new Cardinals logo. As long as everyone stays true to the values that make District 206 the best it can be, you will all be just fine.

Besides, coming from experience, I guarantee it could be worse. Much, much worse.

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“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

Annie Harman
Annie Harman is a reporter for Echo Press and The Osakis Review. She grew up in Detroit Lakes and graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with a degree in print journalism and history in May 2012. Follow her on Twitter at annieharman
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