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Scrappy is important to UNT Tradition

Scrappy is important to UNT Tradition

Scrappy is important to UNT Tradition
November 03
12:00 2020

When you think of the word “mascot”, you think of the person who is the heart and soul of a team. Mascots play a crucial yet underrated role in the dynamics of a sports game. It is their job to represent an entire franchise or university, keep the energy of fans alive and appeal to younger aged fans. Mascots are the living embodiment of their respective brands not only on the field but off as well. It’s a tough job, but it’s one that UNT’s own Scrappy the Eagle has done well for nearly 100 years. Not only is Scrappy known for his witty posts on social media and down-to-earth attitude, but his journey in becoming the perfect eagle of the UNT student body.

The history of Scrappy began when the University of North Texas was known as North Texas State Normal College. For the first 22 years of being recognized as a college, North Texas State Normal College went without a mascot. College students and athletes were referred to as “Normal Boys” and “Normal Girls” with the exception of a few female basketball clubs that called themselves anything from “The Dandy Doers” to “The Suffragettes.” As the school began to transition into North Texas State Teacher’s College, students voiced their opinions needing of a mascot and petitioned for one during the fall of 1921.

A mascot election was held in January 1922, with animals such as lions, hawks, eagles and dragons making it into the finals. It was a tight race with a difference of 17 votes, but the eagles beat out the runner-up, the dragons, because of its keen eye, beauty and fierce spirit along with independence. The U.S. Copyright Office approved of the eagle and it was officially recognized as the college mascot in the spring of 1924.

After World War II, North Texas students and faculty trained a live mascot to attend competitive events in order to boost school spirit. In 1950, Denton businessman Tommy Laney gifted North Texas with a South American golden eagle later named Scrappy. Scrappy retired to the Forest Park Zoo in Fort Worth after two years of activity and was succeeded by Victor that same year. Sadly, Victor died of heat exhaustion prior to making his debut and Scrappy returned as the mascot until his death in 1959. Victor II was appointed the new mascot in 1960 and despite being a perfect fit, he was deemed too expensive and was returned to his habitat in 1961.

A second Scrappy eagle was chosen to fill in the role of mascot but sadly, like Victor I, died before making his debut. The event was so tragic that concert band director Maurice McAdow constructed a paper mache in an art class to pay tribute to the fallen eagle. The McAdow eagle was used during athletic events until Talons bought two serpent eagles named Scrappy I and Scrappy II to serve as mascots from 1967-1969. Talons elected one of their own members named Larry Burrows to become the first human mascot in 1969.

When Burrows donned the iconic suit, he was known simply as “the Eagle” until 1971 when the mascot became known as Scrappy after another member took over the reins. This change would be short-lived when the name was reverted back to the Eagle in 1973. 10 years later, the Eagle would become known as Eppy. This incarnation of the mascot lived well into the mid-nineties when there was another vote held by students, faculty and alumni. Students voted to keep the name Eppy with faculty and alumni voting to change the name to Scrappy. On Dec. 2, 1995, during a game against Alabama Crimson Tide, Scrappy made his debut.

Scrappy is important to UNT tradition because he is nearly as old as the school itself. Many changes have been made the university and many faces have passed the hallways through the years but one thing that remains constant to the University of North Texas is Scrappy despite the obstacles at the beginning of his journey. If anything, Scrappy’s story is symbolic to the UNT student body. There will be a lot of aspects or rough patches in life that will push us down, but there is always a solution to a challenge.

Because of this, I feel there is an emotional connection between Scrappy and the students of UNT. Not only does Scrappy reflect the personality of UNT alum, but he represents core values students hold closest to them which is embedded in eagle tradition such as collaboration, diversity and excellence. Homecoming is a way to honor tradition and what better to honor the University of North Texas than to pay tribute to the best eagle we could ask for?

Featured Illustration by Olivia Varnell

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Adrian Maldonado

Adrian Maldonado

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