The Humpback Whale: A UAS Tradition
While many schools choose mascot animals based on their fierceness or physical strength, other mascots convey decidedly different qualities. Here in Southeast Alaska, in addition to being a symbol of wildlife and conservation, the Humpback Whale is the epitome of grace, intelligence, and natural beauty.
The University of Alaska Juneau (UAJ) first adopted the Humpback Whale as its mascot in 1980. The whale was retained after the restructuring into the University of Southeast (UAS) in 1987 to include the Ketchikan and Sitka campuses. A student contest was held to name the mascot and the whale has been known as "Spike" ever since.
By 2005 the original Spike was showing serious signs of wear. The Spike used today was born September 10, 2005. Spike now has a Humpback Whale appearance and includes XtraTuf footwear so as so better navigate the S.E. Alaska terrain.
Our school mascot has always been a Humpback Whale (est. 1987) but the mascot character itself has not. The original Spike costume was actually a modified catfish made to look more like a Humpback Whale. The current Spike is custom designed, complete with Southeast Sneakers (rain boots).
Below is a photo of Spike (Ver. 1.0) caught feeding on campus.
Leo Ellis, 5 yrs. of age, of Harborview Elementary School won the grand prize for the Name the UAS Whale Contest.
Leo received the award during half-time of the Simpson College, UAS Whales Game, Nov. 22, 1987.
Whalesong archives show that Spike starting appearing on campus in September of 1987. At the time Spike was very popular at basketball games. Today Spike can often be spotted at events both on and off campus. Spike lives at the Recreation Center and is out for display, greeting those who enter the facility.
None other than Michael Ciri, Vice Chancellor for Administration. In his bio, Ciri claimed he is, "... in the UAS mascot hall of fame as the original "Spike" the whale." Ciri was often seen bounding the stands during UAS Whale and Lady Whale basketball games. We're in the process of looking for video and pictures to verify his claim, but this was at a time when very few carried a camera or video recorder. We've run this against Snopes (urban legend debunker) but they show no record.
For a complete UAJ Whales versus UAA Seawolves basketball game see the video below or visit the REC Center YouTube channel. This game was considered UAJ's biggest game and first time playing against UAA. This non-divisional game turns out to be a real "nail biter".