Wellington: a beacon of Wildcat pride

Austin Lane, Senior Sports Reporter

You may have seen him at a CWU football game, CWU Night with the Seattle Mariners or even at his own wildfire event. Even if you haven’t caught a glance of this unit of a cat, Wellington the Wildcat is ingrained in CWU’s past and present. 

As the official CWU mascot, Wellington has seen his fair share of events. Wellington tries his hardest to make it out to every CWU home football and basketball game, as well as other events. Wellington has even been requested to be at someone’s wedding. The history of Wellington goes back in time, all the way back to the late 1920s. Let’s take a dive into CWU’s rich history and see how Wellington came to be. 

CWU Archives

According to CWU Archives, it was in 1929 when CWU first adopted the wildcat mascot, replacing the former “normalities” moniker. They used the name “normalities” to go along with being the Washington State Normal School, prior to being CWU. The original wildcat mascot was a real-life lynx named Tuffy. Tuffy was loaned to CWU by a Cle Elum business named “The Wildcat Motel.” The business loaned the lynx for sporting events held at the University. When a fire burned the motel, the Student Government Association took over caring for Tuffy. In the fall of 1952, Tuffy escaped and hid in shrubbery, but was found just before the kickoff of a CWU home football game. Afterwards, Tuffy was moved to Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo, where he lived out the rest of his life. 

In 1981, the Wildcat Shop, known then as The University Store, had a naming contest for the new mascot. The winner of the Name The Cat Contest received a $50 gift certificate to the Wildcat Shop. Meg Chadwick topped the “hundreds and hundreds” of entries with her name for the mascot, “Wellington.” Ever since, the mascot has held the name of Wellington.

Today, Wellington can be requested for events and even has his own social media pages. Alejandra Cruz-Martinez, Executive Assistant at ASCWU, said Wellington has a big impact on the CWU community.

“I truly do believe Wellington is that fun image of [CWU],” Cruz-Martinez said. “It’s what you remember [CWU] as. The mascot is the image you rock on your t-shirt you get from the Wildcat Shop. He’s the image you see around campus. He’s very important and very significant.”

Cruz-Martinez is in charge of scheduling Wellington and running his social media pages. She said Wellington tends to stay busy. On Nov. 14, Wellington was at a Filipino American Student Association event. The following day, Wellington was scheduled to make an appearance at a local church event in Ellensburg.

“He gets scheduled for different events pretty often,” Cruz-Martinez said. “He makes appearances where we find it beneficial for Wellington to be at.” 

ASCWU VP for Student Life and Facilities Mickael Candaleria, who oversees Cruz-Martinez and helps with Wellington, said the atmosphere changes and school spirit is at a higher level whenever Wellington is at an event. Candaleria saw first-hand at CWU Night with the Tacoma Rainiers, the impact Wellington has on the community outside of just Ellensburg.

“Some random kid goes ‘Wellington, I’m your biggest fan,’ and it was so shocking to hear because usually you associate Wellington with Ellensburg or CWU but to know Wellington has an impact in Tacoma at a Rainiers game is pretty cool,” Candelaria said. 

To schedule Wellington at your event, you can find a QR code in the ASCWU office located in SURC 236. You can also schedule him by emailing [email protected] or going to cwu.edu/ASCWU. To see what Wellington is up to, he can be followed on Instagram @wellington_wildcat.