“Being able to put a smile on someone’s face and brighten their day, just by giving them a hug and taking a picture,” is what the one and only Wilbur the Wildcat says is the best part of being Wilbur. The University of Arizona’s mascot will be celebrating his 56th birthday this year.
Wilbur says, “After being chosen, we have three-times-a-week weight training sessions, cardio sessions and one-armed push-up training. I also had to learn all of Wilbur’s moves, plus practicing with Wilma.”
Wilbur goes to all football and men’s basketball games. He also makes appearances at women’s basketball, tennis, soccer, swimming, sand volleyball and volleyball and attends some away games depending on the budget and certain demands.
“At the end of my second year here at the UofA, I realized how big of an impact you can have on athletics, the university as a whole and the Tucson community. That’s when I thought that being Wilbur would be so much fun.”
There is an application process that opens in the spring that involves questions, an interview and an “in suit” tryout at a game interacting with the fans. When you are offered the position of Wilbur, it is a two-year commitment, but sometimes depending on circumstances, some Wilburs are around up to four years.
“Being a mascot is a lot of hours and a big commitment. If you are willing to make sacrifices and devote your time, you will have some of the best experiences of your life AND you ALWAYS have a great front row seat!”
Special thanks to Jaime Bernier, head cheerleading and mascot coach, and Wilbur for their help with this story.