Wichita State News
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Wichita State's mascot, WuShock, celebrates a 60th birthday this year.

Look who's 60: WuShock!

Monday, November 10, 2008

How do you throw a birthday party for a 60-year-old Wichita State University icon, aka WuShock? You invite about 10,000 of the mascot's closest friends to a WSU basketball game.

The birthday bash will occur during halftime of the WSU-UMKC men’s basketball game, which starts at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, in Charles Koch Arena.

Early-arriving fans will receive a special party hat and a piece of birthday cake.

Gates open at 5:30 p.m.

The halftime will feature a retrospective video, a special appearance by the first Wu, Dave Johnson, and Wu’s creator, Wilbur Elsea. Fans also will be asked to join in singing happy birthday to WuShock.

WuShock has only made one special request — lots of presents — not for himself, but for Toys for Tots. He encourages fans to bring new, unused toys to the game to help brighten the holidays for many children.

WuShock Trivia

1. In 1904, when Wichita State University was known as Fairmount College, football manager R.J. Kirk is credited with inventing the name “Wheat Shockers” for a poster contest to advertise a game against the Chilocco Indians.

2. Wichita University had used, in its early years, a shock of wheat as its symbol because of the area’s wheat production. In those days when wheat was shocked or headed, most athletes earned a stake for college expenses by working all summer in the harvest. In the fall, they came back tough enough to play 60-minute games on a stubbled wheat field.

3. Members of the pep club were known as “Wheaties,” so the wheat designation was quite fitting.

4. Although the name “Wheat Shockers” was never officially adopted, it eventually caught on and was combined into one word. Eventually the nickname was shortened to the “Shockers,” the nickname Wichita State teams are known as today.

5. The story of WuShock began in 1948 when Wichita University art department students were invited by the Kappa Pi art fraternity to compete in the creation of a design to typify the spirit of the school. The contest was wide open with no theme established for the contest.

6. Junior Wilbur Elsea, a Marine during World War II, was the winner of the contest. He decided “the school needed a mascot who gave a tough impression ... with a serious, no-nonsense scowl.”

7. The 1950 Parnassus (yearbook) cover was designed by Elsea from his original WuShock caricature. He was honored with a $20 cash award for winning first place in the Parnassus cover design contest that year.

8. In the Oct. 7, 1948, issue of “The Sunflower,” an advertisement appeared urging students to submit names for the school’s newly chosen mascot. Jack Kersting won the contest with the current name — WuShock.

9. Dave Johnson, a Wichita University cheerleader, changed the mascot from ink into flesh and blood in 1954. He and members of the art department brought WuShock to life as a costume.

10. On Feb. 7, 1987, WuShock experienced the most publicized event of his life. During a men’s basketball game against Southern Illinois, WuShock was tossed out of the game by the referees. Wu’s crime? During a time-out he was witnessed by referees pretending to be a blind referee. One of the referees didn’t take too kindly to Wu’s riling the crowd up, so he tossed him.

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Created on Monday, November 10, 2008; Last modified on Wednesday, December 03, 2008