Nittany Lion: Wikis


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Nittany Lion
The Nittany Lion mascot at the 2007 season opener
The Nittany Lion mascot at the 2007 season opener
University Pennsylvania State University
Conference Big Ten
Description Nittany Lion
First seen 1904
Official website All Things Nittany - Nittany Lion

This article is about the Penn State mascot. For the Penn State fight song see "The Nittany Lion".

The Nittany Lion is the mascot of the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania, USA and its athletic teams. It refers to the mountain lions that once roamed near the school, and to Mount Nittany, a local landmark. There is also a fight song played during sporting events on campus entitled "The Nittany Lion."



The Nittany Lion mascot pumps up the crowd at the 2005 football game versus Cincinnati at Beaver Stadium.

The mascot was the creation of Penn State senior H. D. "Joe" Mason in 1907. While on a 1904 trip to Princeton University, Mason had been embarrassed that Penn State did not have a mascot. Mason did not let that deter him: he fabricated the Nittany Lion on the spot and proclaimed that it would easily defeat the Princeton Bengal tiger.[1] The Lion's primary means of attack against the Tiger would be its strong right arm, capable of slaying any foes (this is now traditionally exemplified through one-armed push-ups after the team scores a touchdown). Upon returning to campus, he set about making his invention a reality. In 1907, he wrote in the student publication The Lemon:

Every college the world over of any consequence has a college emblem of some kind—all but The Pennsylvania State College . . .. Why not select for ours the king of beasts—the Lion!! Dignified, courageous, magnificent, the Lion allegorically represents all that our College Spirit should be, so why not 'the Nittany Mountain Lion'? Why cannot State have a kingly, all-conquering Lion as the eternal sentinel?

(These words later inspired the fight song known as "The Nittany Lion", which begins "Every college has a legend...".)

Mountain lions had roamed on nearby Mount Nittany until the 1880s. The origin of the name "Mount Nittany" is obscure, the most commonly accepted explanation being that it is derived of Native American words (loosely pronounced as "neet-a-nee") named after the cougars that roamed the mountain or "single mountain" - a protective barrier against the elements.

The name was readily accepted without a vote of the student body. In 1907, the first tangible lion symbols appeared with the placing of two alabaster African lion statues, left over from the Pennsylvania exhibit at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, atop the columns at the main campus entrance on College and Allen streets. They were affectionately dubbed by the student body as "Pa" and "Ma." In the 1920s, a pair of stuffed mountain lions was placed in the Recreation Building to watch over athletic events. One of these original lions is now located in Pattee Library on the Penn State campus. About that same time, the tradition was established of having a student dressed in furry-lion outfits appear at football games.


The men behind the mask

  1. Dick Hoffman 1921?-1923
  2. Leon Skinner 1927
  3. Eugene Wettstone 1939
  4. Donald Newberry 1939?
  5. George Terwilliger 1939-1940
  6. Tom Kelly 1941?-1942
  7. Robert Ritzmann 1942-1946
  8. Peter Bates 1945-1946
  9. Clark Sharon 1946?-1947
  10. Wendell Lomady 1947-1949
  11. Michael Kurkowski 1949-1950
  12. John Waters 1950-1951
  13. Alex Gregal 1951-1954
  14. Alfred Klimcke 1954-1957
  15. William Hillgartner 1957-1958
  16. John Behler 1957-1960
  17. Jack Lesyk 1960-1961
  18.  ??? 1961-1962
  19. Paul Seltzer 1962-1964
  20. Edwin Parkinson 1964-1965
  21. Martin Serota 1965-1967
  22. Danny Kohlhepp 1967-1969
  23. David Lacey 1969-1971
  24. David Brazet 1971-1972
  25. James Schaude 1972-1973
  26. Saverio "Sam" F. Mirarchi 1973
  27. Robert Welsh 1973-1975
  28. Andrew Bailey 1975-1977
  29. Cliff Fiscus 1977-1978
  30. Norman Constantine 1978-1980
  31. Roy Scott 1980-1982
  32. David Dailey 1982-1984
  33. Robert Sterling 1984-1986
  34. Doug Skinner 1986-1988
  35. Peter Garland 1988-1990
  36. Todd Shilkret 1990-1991
  37. Tim Durant 1991-1993
  38. Richard Williams 1993-1995
  39. Brad Cornali 1995-1996
  40. Nick Indeglio 1996-1998
  41. Marty Duff 1998-2000
  42. Mike Zollars 2002-2003
  43. Stephen Soung 2003-2005
  44. Dave Johnson 2005-2007
  45. James Sheep 2007 - 2009
  46. Clint Gyory 2009-

The Lion Shrine

The Lion Shrine

During the 1940s, seeking a place to hold pep rallies and victory celebrations, students launched a campaign for a lion shrine. As its gift to the university, the Class of 1940 voted to give the sum of $5,430 to pay for the construction of such a shrine, which was to be constructed between the Recreation Building and Beaver Stadium, with the lion framed against a natural setting of trees, grass, and shrubs. The sculptor Heinz Warnecke was retained to carve the lion at the site from a thirteen-ton block of limestone. The sculpture was formally unveiled on October 24, 1942. The shrine has come to be one of the most visited and photographed sites, not just on campus, but also in the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Guarding the Shrine

This is a Homecoming weekend tradition at Penn State, started in 1966 when Sue Paterno (wife of football coach Joe Paterno) and a friend covered the lion in orange latex-based paint as a way of stoking interest in that year's game against PSU rival Syracuse. While that paint washed off easily, a later dousing by actual Syracuse fans with oil-based paint proved much harder to remove, requiring sand blasting. The shrine is guarded for the duration of Homecoming weekend by Penn State's ROTC detachment, Blue Band, alumni, current students, faculty, and by the Lion Ambassadors. The latter group brings food, music, games, and (starting in 2004) an event called "Last Guard Standing", attracting students from all over campus. Originally, the guard was manned by freshmen.

See also


External links


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