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Remembering McWoo: Wooster’s mascot metamorphosis

Zoe Covey

Features Editor

The College of Wooster has many longstanding traditions. Things like filling the Arch, I.S. Monday and avoiding Tootsie Rolls like the plague until your senior thesis is completed are all well-recognized parts of being a student at the College. These traditions, of course, grow and change over time with each new class of students, but many may assume that Wooster stays pretty much the same from year to year. While many of these examples do enjoy a lot of continuity, some parts of campus are wildly different than they were even 15 years ago.

One such example is who we have considered to be our mascot for the College over the years. While some students may know that we were once called the Presbyterian Steamrollers, they may not be aware of how many names and faces the College has been represented by in the form of a school mascot. 

According to the Sep. 22, 2006 edition of The Wooster Voice, “The name ‘Scot’ dates back to 1931,” and “‘Fighting’ was added to make the team appear more aggressive in the 1950s.” In addition to this, The Voice states that “The depiction of a man dressed in a kilt holding a sword has always accompanied the Fighting Scot name in the College’s NCAA and NCAC publications.” 

However, the Fighting Scot was not always the physical mascot for the school. According to alumnus Carrie McGraw Johnson ’88, there was a period of time, beginning while she was a student, in which the Scottie Dog (still considered a mascot today, though used less than the Fighting Scot), affectionately christened McWoo, was the main costume seen around campus. 

“I was working at The Office of News Services with John Finn (sports information director at the time) when the McWoo costume was first acquired/purchased. John asked me to try it on so they could take some photos. I was the first to wear it. He asked me to do it since I worked in the office and because I had been a cheerleader in high school. The photo was taken inside a studio and was used in a news release to introduce the new mascot. My claim to McWoo’s fame,” said Johnson. 

Johnson believes that McWoo was introduced at this time because of a larger movement toward increasing school spirit. “From what I recall, around ’85 or ’86, the College also brought back cheerleaders. The Scot Marching Band … doubled in size when Nancy Ditmer took over in ’84. Our class (’88) had 60 members alone that year. Because of all that growth, I think the Athletic Department decided it would be great to have a mascot as well,” said Johnson.

Scott Rogers ’88 also had much to do with McWoo’s celebrated status, filling the role of wearer-of-the-costume his first and sophomore years at the College. “I was recruited by my RA from Stephenson, whose name escapes me. She was a senior cheerleader and during one of the first freshmen mixers, before classes actually started, she asked me to take on the role. The costume was huge, and being six foot six, I made the costume that much taller … The way you can tell this is the oldest is by the paws. Late freshman year or early sophomore, we switched to the white gloves because it allowed me to do more,” said Rogers.

Being McWoo came with a lot of unique challenges and opportunities. Rogers reflected on memories of learning game day routines, and said, “as you can guess, the costume was awkward, so we would practice some things without it only to discover that I couldn’t do the same movements in costume.” Not only was the costume unwieldy, but it was never certain how the audience would react to it. “Some kids loved the costume, others were rather terrified by the concept of a seven to eight foot tall Scottie Dog in a kilt,” said Rogers. It didn’t stay eight feet tall, as when Rogers returned to campus from studying abroad as a junior, “the costume had shrunk dramatically and lost the kilt,” he said.

But by the 1990s, McWoo’s shiny new kid status had begun to fade. Alumnus Matthew Burdette ’92 said that during his tenure as a student, “We had the traditional Fighting Scot mascot and the lesser used but still somewhat prominent Scottie Dog.” 

The Scottie Dog did still have a name and an active presence on campus in 1993 though, shown in the Oct. 29, 1993 edition of The Voice, in which McWoo is pictured with alumni at a homecoming celebration. Fear not, Fighting Scots, because the story of McWoo’s rise and fall did not end in the ’90s. McWoo resurfaced in 2006, connected with controversy as figures of importance often are. This time it was because the Fighting Scot wwas coming back in a big way. 

According to the Sep. 22, 2006 edition of The Voice, the decision was made by “the W-Association” to “ … switch from the Scottie Dog costume to the Fighting Scot costume on game days.” McWoo had fallen on hard times apparently, because The Voice went on to report that “this switch may stem from the old age and dire state of the old costume.” Students fought for McWoo, including the 2006-07 Editor in Chief of The Voice, Liz Miller ’07, who wrote a viewpoint in the Oct. 13, 2006 edition criticizing the decision to “unveil a new mascot” while also keeping the old one. 

The same edition of The Voice published another article about the low turnout at auditions to be the face (or rather, body) of the new Fighting Scot, who was as-yet unnamed, another point harped upon by critics. Current students at the College likely don’t know that the Scottie Dog once had a name. At least, this editor didn’t. Some may not even know that this mascot existed. 

How the Scottie Dog came to be called McWoo is unknown, even to those essential to the establishing of the character. Rogers, on being asked where “McWoo” came from, responded, “I don’t know. I showed up freshman year and was immediately recruited to wear the costume. It was all set by the time I got there, all I had to do was get in, and figure out how to stay hydrated.”

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