Kansas State Nickname, Mascot and Traditions
Discover the story behind K-State's nickname, mascot, colors and more!
Location: Manhattan, Kansas
Conference: Big 12
School Color: Royal Purple
Fight Song: "Wildcat Victory"
Kansas State University Nickname: Wildcats
K-State hasn't always associated itself with the feline family. The name "Aggies" was the first used by the school in the late l890s by head football coach John "Chief' Bender. The new coach made his mark on K-State history when he gave his team the "Wildcat" nickname. However, Coach Bender soon left the K-State program and the Wildcat nickname became a stray.
The school's nickname darted back to its agricultural roots when coach Z.G. Clevenger's announced a nickname revision to "Farmers" in 1917. However, K-State's next coach, Charles Bachman, must have been a meat and potatoes man because he discarded Farmers in favor of Wildcats in 1920.
Mascots: Willie the Wildcat
The fIgure found prowling the sidelines of Wildcat games is a creature that resembles half animal and half man. However, assigning the mystery to the X-Files would rank as a hoax since it's just K-State's mascot, Willie. Sporting a Wildcat head and a football uniform, the costumed mascot displays wildcat strength at K-State football games when he does push ups each time his team scores. The amount that Willie knocks out equals the number of Wildcat points on the scoreboard.
GAME DAY TRADITIONS: FIRST DOWN! & WABASH CANNONBALL
A game day tradition that K-State claims to have originated is one that fans coast to coast love to scream out when their team makes a first down. Those who have ever shouted "first down" when the referee makes the signal, perhaps owe this joyful moment to a group of purple clad fans. This is how it's done Wildcat style. After the team makes a first down, K-State's stadium announcer, Ivan Wilkinson says, "Good for another Wildcat ... " and the rest of the Wildcat fans yell "first down" while pointing in the direction their beloved team is headed.
Go to any K-State football game and the tune Wabash Cannonball is certain to be heard. The connection between the song and the school became a natural after K-State's department of Music burned down in the fall of 1969. The only music salvaged was a copy of Wabash Cannonball that was in the director's briefcase.
With the next football game took place, the band only had the music to one song. Therefore, they played Wabash Cannonball again and again. Apparently the song grew on the Wildcat faithful, because it now serves as a second fight song.