top of page
  • Alan Cohen, Staff Writer

Seniors honor school spirit by wearing Blitz’s feet at graduation

Art by Eli Fukuji.

During this year’s commencement ceremony, some may notice unusual footwear among the graduates. That’s because every year, students who worked as the Blitz mascot during their time at Willamette reveal their involvement in the role by wearing Blitz’s feet at graduation.

Assistant Director of Student Engagement and Leadership (SEAL) Jodi Santillie oversees the Blitz program as well as many other events and initiatives that are part of the SEAL office. She said the tradition emerged as a way to announce who has been part of the Blitz team in a fun way, as students must sign an agreement to keep their role on the Blitz team a secret until graduation.

The Blitz team currently has eight student workers who perform at sporting events, Bearcat Days, Opening Days, commencement ceremonies and other university events. The team also employs several Blitz handlers, who assist the person wearing the Blitz costume, as well as a coordinator. 

Just as every new generation of student mascots have brought their own flair to the role, the mascot itself has evolved over time. Willamette’s first mascot was Barney, which then went through multiple changes in its more than 40 years as mascot, including new costume designs and renamings. Santillie said that the changes “[were] important in terms of school spirit and having this thing to rally behind.” The mascot’s original design most resembled the binturong, a dark-colored animal native to Asia. By contrast, Blitz the Bearcat looks more like a red panda. 

The tradition of wearing Blitz’s feet at graduation was inspired by the same tradition at the University of Oregon, which has a duck as its mascot. 

At this year’s graduation ceremony, which will be held on May 19, seniors who have worn the Blitz costume at university events during their time at Willamette will reveal their involvement and celebrate with loved ones, continuing the tradition and honoring school spirit one last time. 

80 views0 comments


bottom of page