Katelyn McLean | Sports Editor
Whitworth’s new mascot character was revealed on Friday, Feb 18 at halftime of the men’s basketball game. Previous Whitworth mascot Walker D. Planks retired to hunt treasure elsewhere and has been replaced by his parrot, Captain Patches, who is the new official mascot of Whitworth University.
“I’m excited to be able to use [Patches] in various community activities like parades, different local fairs, things like that, to represent Whitworth,” ASWU school spirit coordinator Georgia Goff said.
The mascot, a cartoon-like green parrot in a pirate outfit complete with a pirate hat, belongs fully to Whitworth to own and use in merchandise, advertising and community events.
“We invested the money and time into getting a new mascot, one that we own the design to, so that we can actually put it on t-shirts [and] plushies,” Goff said. “If you just Google pirate mascot costume, [the old mascot] is one of the first ones to pop up. We can’t sell shirts with his face on it, we can’t do anything like that, so this is a unique design to Whitworth and a unique character that we have all to ourselves.”
While a new face around campus, Captain Patches is loving getting to know the Pirate community and inspiring school spirit. “His number one favorite activity is just spending time with the other Pirates and getting to know the community,” Goff said.
While Walker Planks wasn’t spotted at many Whitworth events leading up to his retirement, Captain Patches is eager to attend as many sporting events as he can.
“We can certainly expect him at all indoor sports when the schedule allows for that,” Goff said. “We can also expect any outdoor sports where the weather is nice, maybe not every single game because there’s multiple going on each and every day, but we would like to use him a lot more frequently than we were ever able to use Walker.”
Additionally, the change in mascot from the Pirate to the parrot will hopefully allow for more diversity and inclusion of the student body in the mascot program.
“Our previous costume included a white face and the wearers’ hands were uncovered. Back when the mascot program was more active and involved with school events, some students of color felt uncomfortable wearing the costume because their hands would not match the color of the face,” Goff said.
The goal is for Captain Patches to be able to interact with students and clubs, both through in person sporting events and through his Instagram account.
At the basketball game, Patches was introduced with the lights dimmed and a spotlight, and confetti poppers were detonated as ASWU members pulled back the curtain of a Pirate tent to reveal Patches. He then made his way across the floor, inviting the crowd to cheer, and was joined by members of ASWU in a dance. However, the students didn’t seem nearly as enthusiastic about the mascot change as members of ASWU did.
Captain Patches attempted to pump up the crowd after his big entrance to a chorus of both cheers and boos from the student section.
“I know that there was a little bit of disapproval at the very beginning, but I believe that this was due to a rumor that ASWU had changed the university mascot rather than just the mascot costume,” Goff said. “In that sense, I believe that people were originally disappointed because they did not want to change from being the Pirates. Once they realized that it was just the costume that was changing, I believe people really began to enjoy it.”
Like it or not, Whitworth will be seeing a lot more of Captain Patches around campus as ASWU seeks to make the mascot a more inclusive and involved experience for the student body.