WuShock is the beloved mascot of Wichita State University. Although many will recognize him, it's not uncommon for people to have no clue what he actually is. So here’s the story of how WSU became known as the Schockers and how Wu became Wu.
How the Shockers Came to Be
Back in the early days of WSU, when it was still known as Fairmount College, many of the players on the colleges newly formed football team, earned tuition money by harvesting wheat. A common practice in wheat harvesting is to tie the wheat together in a bundle called a shock. The schock is later processed into wheat kernels.
R.J Kirk, the school’s football manager in 1904, used the name “Wheat Shockers” on a poster advertising an upcoming game. It was a fitting name at the time as the team played on a wheat field, and the pep club members where even called “Wheaties”. The name ‘Wheat Shockers” was never officially adopted by the school but stuck long enough to be shortened to “Shockers” and adopted by the School.
The Birth of Wu
Until 1948 Wichita State’s official symbol was a nameless, faceless shock of wheat. Kappa Pi honorary art fraternity held a competition to make a mascot for the school. Junior Wilbur Elsea had the winning design. His concept was a tough, no-nonsense early version of the Wu we know today. Later that same year WuShock got his name via another contest. Freshman Jack Kersting had the winning entry. He derived the name from the school initials W.U. (it was know simply as Wichita University back then) and the newly shortened version of Wheat Schockers; and thus WuShock was born.
WuShock lived only on paper for the first six years of his life. In 1954 WU cheerleader Dave Johnson came up with the first WuShock costume. Using $20 (roughly $175 today) and some help from his mom he put together the first WuShock prototype. Over the years Wu has been through some redesigns, only five of which were considered official. Some of his different looks included things such as wearing a grass skirt and hitting the gym to look a bit more buff.
We all have those awkward transition years and Wu is no exception, one iteration of his look won recognition from Sports Illustrated as one of collegiate sports worst mascots. Luckily he came out of those awkward years looking pretty good in 2006 when his current look was designed to better be a reflection upon the school official logo.
With all the variations in his appearance, WuShock has been called weird, terrifying, and even ugly. But through it all he is still a beloved by Wichitans as symbol of Wichita State University and of the City of Wichita itself.