Big Willy style: the life and times of the wolverines’ mascot

UVU AthleticsReading Time: 2 minutes

by Tyson Peterson, reporter, [email protected]

He can usually be seen dancing at basketball games, hurling t-shirts and other giveaways into the stands, or posing for pictures with fans, but Willy the Wolverine is still seen as somewhat of an enigma to the rest of the Utah Valley University community. Recently there has been talk of a female wolverine – ostensibly Willy’s wife – and a miniature wolverine that following this mindset, could be his son. Students have also asked: How did Willy get his job? What does he do? And why is he so protective of his identity?

Tim Sandgren, a representative from UVU Athletics, provided some answers.

“Usually in the spring of each year, tryouts are held in the P.E. building for the following year’s Willy,” said Sandgren. “Any student can try out, and they’re asked to come prepared with a 2 minute skit.”

When asked about a female wolverine, Sandgren denied the existence of a possible Mrs. Willy, but there is a mini wolverine.

“The mini wolverine is Lil’ Will,” he said. “We have a miniature suit and when we can find someone to wear it, we let it out there.”

Willy has a variety of responsibilities, mostly with UVU Athletics.

“His main responsibility is to attend Athletic Events,” Sandgren continued. “He is at 90 percent of our home games, but he also attends community events, goes to local elementary schools, and provides services to various UVU departments.”

In an earlier article about Willy the Wolverine, featured in The UVU Review he was asked what his signature trick or stunt is.

“One of my favorite signature trick/stunts would definitely have to be the WUFF (Willy’s Ultimate Fur Flip) back tuck,” Willy responded.

He was also asked, what he would do if he were alone with BYU’s mascot, Cosmo.

“I would break open a couple of Mountain Dews, which I’m sure Cosmo would appreciate,” he said. “It’s tough to find Dew in his neck of the woods, BYU being a dry campus and all. Just relax, shoot the breeze, ask him if there is a Mrs. Cosmo yet and how he’s handling the whole hairball thing.”

According to a previous article done on Willy the Wolverine, Barbra Wardle, the sculptor who made three of the school’s wolverine statues on campus, President Wilson W. Sorenson was exceptionally fond of this choice. Wardle remembers Sorenson comparing the school to a wolverine because of its small size and fearless attitude.

Soon after the mascot was decided, the school purchased a large furry wolverine suit. In the beginning, many members of the faculty and student government dawned the sweaty suit, recalled former Director of Student Programs Ann Richardson.

Of course Willy works very hard to hide his identity, as if he was part of The Witness Protection Program.

“He’s never unmasked in public,” Sandgren said. “When we go to community events he is taken in a van where he can change. If there is a room available at the event he can change in the available room. Of course he doesn’t walk around campus telling people he’s Willy.”

Though the true nature of the man behind the mask remains a mystery, Willy continues to inspire fans to join him in his unwavering support of the Wolverines.