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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Behind the Mask: Wilma the Wildcat

Noor Haghighi
Wilma cheers on the crowd on Sept. 29 for Bear Down Friday. Each Friday before a home football game, the community gets excited with Bear Down Friday.

Wilma the Wildcat has been the iconic female mascot for the University of Arizona since 1986.

Wilbur and Wilma “met on a blind date on March 1, 1986,” according to the UA’s alumni website. “They were married on Nov. 21, 1986, before a football game against Arizona State University. Wilma is known for her friendly personality. She’s often seen waving and blowing kisses to fans.”

The identities of the UA students behind the masks are kept secret all year until the last regular-season home basketball game, the alumni website said.

Having to keep their identity secret is sometimes a challenge for the mascots.

“Saying no is my least favorite experience, and not being able to explain it to my friends,” Wilma said.

Although some elements of working as the UA mascot are challenging, like this vow to secrecy, Wilma noted that there are also many upsides to the role, in large part due to the engagement with the campus community.

“There are too many fun experiences to count. Crowd surfing is definitely one of my favorites, though,” Wilma said.

Wilma mentioned that her desire to fill the role was, in large part, motivated by the opportunity to connect with students and fans across campus.

“I feel like being Wilma encapsulates representing the UA and the student body spirit. Not only is it a fun, amazing experience, but it bridges the gap between fans and athletic events,” Wilma said.

Wilbur and Wilma have long served these roles and have been a fixture of UA campus life and school spirit.

“Mascots have been a constant and definite thing students and faculty can always count on to inspire spirit on campus,” Wilma said.

With Homecoming week coming up at the end of October, Wilma has been very busy at work. Extensive preparation for the mascots and across campus goes into the production of Homecoming festivities.

“Homecoming is the most hectic but fun week. The old alumni mascots come back and have the chance to wear the suit again and experience being a mascot again,” Wilma said.

The bond between mascots is also an important one, especially as they act as such central characters to the university. By spending so much time with one another, Wilma and Wilbur have naturally become “best friends from the process,” Wilma said.

“Having support from someone else who is experiencing the same things as you makes being a mascot a lot less isolating and provides a support system,” Wilma said. “[…] having someone to talk and relate to provides a supportive environment and turns being a mascot into a more linking experience.”

Those interested in being the next Wilma or Wilbur can follow @azwilmawildcat and @azwilburwildcat on Instagram for more information on the tryouts in the spring.

This mascot feature is from a two-part package. Read Wilbur’s feature at:

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