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Discover the stories surrounding the Arizona State Sun Devils nickname story along with the ASU mascot Sparky, school colors and many great traditions that take place on gamedays and beyond.
Arizona State Mascot: Sparky
Arizona State University is a school that is steeped in a rich history, one that dates back over 135 years. Over that time, many changes have taken place on campus, but none quite as significant as the evolution of ASU's mascot. From an owl to a bulldog, to Sparky the Sun Devil, the mascot has become an emblem of pride and spirit for the university. Join us as we will take a trip down memory lane and explore the fascinating story of how Sparky came to be.
Back in the early days of ASU, the athletic teams were represented by an owl, believed to be a symbol of wisdom and knowledge. However, the owl wasn't quite inspiring enough for the student population, who felt that a more fierce and exciting mascot was needed. So, in 1922, the owl was replaced by a bulldog, chosen to give ASU a more intimidating image. This was at a time when ASU was still known as the Arizona State Teacher's College, and there was a desire to elevate the school's respect and prestige.
How Arizona State Gained the Sun Devils Nickname
Every college sports team has a nickname, and they usually tell the story of the school's history or culture. Arizona State University has gone through a few nicknames in its history, and each tells a unique story about the school. From the Normals to the Sun Devils, let's take a look at the nickname history of Arizona State.
The first nickname for Arizona State was the Normals, an abbreviation for the Territorial Normal School of Arizona. This nickname stayed with the school through the early 1920s. As ASU grew and became a four-year school, supporters of the university pushed for a new nickname that would better represent the school's spirit and culture.
Oddly enough, the school's next nickname surfaced in a 1922 loss to a high school team. Despite their defeat, the "Normals" were said to have played the game with the tenacity of a bulldog. With the need for a new athletic symbol and supporters of the school pushing for it to become a four-year school, the "Bulldog" nickname was adopted.
World War II saw the Bulldog football program shut down for three seasons while its members went off to war. While football returned to ASU, the Bulldog nickname was left behind. Instead, a new post-war era began at ASU with adopting the nickname "Sun Devils." This nickname was inspired by a 1946 contest where students were asked to submit their ideas for a new nickname. The winner, a journalism student, came up with the name "Sun Devils" in response to ASU's location in the hot and dry desert.
The Sun Devils nickname became official in 1948 and has stayed with Arizona State ever since. The Sun Devil mascot creates a strong image on campus and at games. In 1980, the famous ASU pitchfork logo debuted, and it quickly became a recognizable symbol of ASU sports.
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