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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Former Wilbur in costume for Homecoming

    UA alumnus Kirk Sibley is a legendary Wilbur who started 10 years ago when he was an undergraduate at the UA. His shoes, which he still has, have been to the mens basketball National Championship game in 1997 and through a 12-1 football season in 1998.
    UA alumnus Kirk Sibley is a legendary Wilbur who started 10 years ago when he was an undergraduate at the UA. His shoes, which he still has, have been to the men’s basketball National Championship game in 1997 and through a 12-1 football season in 1998.

    Pay attention at this weekend’s game and you’ll notice that Wilbur Wildcat is a little bit shorter. Standing at roughly 5-foot-5, alumnus mascot Kirk Sibley is no giant among men.

    But make no mistake, Sibley is a giant among Wildcats.

    Returning to Arizona for his 10th consecutive year in the fur, Sibley has continued to suit up for special occasions since his four-year tenure ended in 1999.

    “”I’m just happy to keep coming out and doing this,”” Sibley said. “”I’m going to keep doing this as long as they let me come back.””

    Arizona alumnus Brian Mason, Sibley’s roommate from 1998 through 2001, said he fondly remembers his friend’s creativity in approaching the Wilbur role.

    “”It was crazy because you’d see this guy out on the field and he’d be this completely different person than the guy you were living with,”” Mason said. “”He’d get out on the field and go completely wild. …The guy was always coming up with stuff.””

    Never one to hog the spotlight, Sibley even managed to get Mason himself involved in the act during the football team’s 1998 home game against ASU.

    “”He made this fake Arizona State mascot, the Sun Devil, out of papier-mâch&#eacute;,”” Mason said. “”The guy must have spent three or four days over Thanksgiving weekend putting that thing together. He bought the ASU jersey, the sweats, the pitchfork, the whole deal. He put me in the suit, and he got me in the game.””

    Sibley designed the fake mascot from a video taken during an interview on “”Good Morning, Arizona”” in which Wilbur appeared with Sparky.

    Mason, dressed as the imposter Sparky, walked over to the ASU fans during the game and began to lead them in cheers. According to Mason, Sibley’s creation was so convincing that many of the Sun Devil faithful were taken in.

    “”It looked pretty good,”” Mason said. “”I’d come out and start getting their crowd going, and then Wilbur would show up and start beating the crap out of me.””

    Mason, as “”Sparky,”” naturally refused to defend himself against Wilbur’s onslaught.

    “”They (ASU fans) would shout, ‘Get up man! Do something! Don’t let that guy beat you up like that!'”” Mason said.

    Arizona went on to win the game 50-42 in what was Sibley’s last home football game as a student.

    “”I have a picture of the scoreboard after that game,”” Sibley said. “”That was a great game.””

    Of course, life with Wilbur Wildcat wasn’t all fun and games. In addition to having to keep Wilbur’s secret identity, Mason and his fellow roommates had to put up with some of Wilbur’s less cuddly aspects.

    “”He’d bring that home, that dang costume, and it’d stink to high heaven,”” Mason said.

    Still Mason admits that body odor aside, it was still pretty funny and definitely not your average apartment.

    “”He’d throw Wilbur in the wash,”” Mason said. “”The fur isn’t real fur, but it gets knotted up like real fur, so there’d be unusual activities – sitting on the couch, brushing out Wilbur’s fur and watching football on TV.””

    Ever the optimist, Sibley has high hopes for this weekend’s game against Cal.

    “”I think we’ve got a really good chance,”” Sibley said. “”Especially after last year’s UCLA game, this is going to be that game that catapults us into next year. …I’m just going to be looking to get the crowd involved in any way I can.””

    Sibley’s also hoping to bring a little luck to the Wildcats as they struggle through another season. As Wilbur, he’ll be wearing the same Red Converse he wore to the 1997 NCAA National Championship Game and all throughout Arizona football’s 12-1 season in 1998, Sibley’s last season as a full-time mascot.

    Mason pointed out that Arizona hasn’t reached a bowl game since Sibley’s last year.

    Sibley refused to say if a “”curse of Kirk Sibley”” afflicts the Wildcats, but he’s not denying it either. Donning the suit as Wilbur during last year’s Homecoming game, Sibley was in attendance as Arizona defeated the undefeated, then-No. 7 UCLA by the shocking margin of 52-14.

    “”If we pull this game off tomorrow, then they probably should just go ahead and hire me back,”” Sibley said. “”At this point, I don’t know what’s going on, but there’s something connected.

    “”I’d like to at least know I did my part to get the crowd involved, and maybe that will help.””

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