Western Carolina’s Paws turns 60

There are two things that are seen at every Western Carolina sporting event. One is the university’s athletes representing the purple and gold with everything they’ve got, leaving it all on the playing field. The second thing is WCU’s mascot, Paws, whipping the crowds into a frenzy with his crazy antics and cheering on the athletes as they march toward a WCU victory. 

Paws celebrated his birthday recently, turning 60 on Saturday, Sept. 25.

Believe it or not, Western Carolina’s beloved Catamounts were almost something entirely different. In the 1930’s a contest was held to determine who the university’s mascot would be, and it came down to the Catamounts or the Mountain Boomers. A mountain boomer is an indigenous squirrel native to Western North Carolina.

WCU’s football coach at the time, C.C. Poindexter, picked the Catamounts because they displayed “a fierce spirit, savage attacks, and lightning quick moves,” all of which are attributes that he wanted the football team to display. Western Carolina has been the Catamounts ever since, one of only 2 universities with the mascot, the other being the University of Vermont. Paws the mascot was introduced in 1950, and has seen different changes over the years.

Last week, Paws sat down with the Western Carolinian to answer a few questions about being the face of Western Carolina University.

Western Carolinian: Describe a football game day for yourself.

Paws: For a 6 o’clock kickoff, the day starts at 2 p.m. Between 3 and 4 p.m. I hit the tailgate areas, and I have to be with the band to do the band walk at 5 p.m. After that is the pre-game festivities, followed by the game. During the game, I cheer in front of the student section for the first half, in front of the band for the third quarter, and during the fourth I go back to the student section.

WC: What is your favorite part of being our schools mascot?

Paws: I love seeing the kid’s faces, the joy that me being at the games brings them.

WC: What is something people don’t know about being the mascot?

Paws: Every game is an extreme workout. Even at cold football games and indoor basketball games, my fur makes it extremely warm, so it feels like it is 100 degrees all of the time.

WC: Thanks for sitting down with us, Paws.

Paws: You are very welcome. GO CATS!!!!