Western Carolina University unveiled its latest modification in the athletics department a few weeks ago, with a fresh new look for the Catamount mascot. Better known as Paws, who was given this name as a part of a student competition several years ago, the Catamount mascot has been revamped from the friendly cat to a more aggressive feline character.
With some time to adjust to the new mascot, students and staff at WCU have mixed reactions.
“Paws has received an extreme makeover to create a mascot that is in keeping with the university’s brand,” said Chip Smith, director of athletics. “The new aggressive look is the latest step in a multiyear branding initiative to better define the university’s image and message.”
While most faculty and staff seem to enjoy the new look of the school’s mascot, some student-athletes have found it harder to adjust to the more ferocious Paws.
Jamaal Mayo, the assistant director of academic support in the athletic department said, “I think the new mascot represents the new logo better than the old Paws.”
Members of the women’s softball team hope to see the new mascot at their games. Megan Taylor, Brittany Barrineau, and Chelsea Schaffer believe that the new Paws is more intimidating and a better look for athletics. However, some members of the baseball team, are not excited about Paws new look.
Andrew Blackwell said, “It looks like a werewolf.”
Student-athletes of the women’s volleyball team believe that the purple hair that outlines Paws face and the purple jersey that covers its body is too much of a good thing.
“[Paws] needs to lose the purple jersey because it takes away from the ferociousness.” Teammate LaTonia Cunningham noted the difference in facial features and said, “This mascot may be scary to children.”
As senior’s of Western Carolina University, Mike Shaw and Olivia Moses appreciate the new look of the school’s mascot.
“It is much better and definitely updated,” said Moses. An enthusiastic Shaw said, “I feel that the new mascot represents the college well. A focus of today’s society is change, and WCU really made a great change when the university chose a new mascot. Go Cats!”
On Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008, Catamount athletics revealed its new brand logo. This came just in time for the 75th anniversary of the selection of the Catamount as the official mascot for Western’s intercollegiate sports teams. Western also reverted to original shades of its school colors of purple and gold, with a deeper purple and traditional gold replacing bright hues of purple and yellow used in recent years.
Chancellor John Bardo said, “We believe our new look better reflects the strength and agility of the native mountain cats of Western North Carolina.”
WCU is one of only two four-year universities in the nation that use the name Catamounts, and is the only football-playing institution to use the name. The teams of the University of Vermont in Burlington also are known as the Catamounts.