Goldy doesn’t say much, but behind those wide eyes, buckteeth and that warm smile is a Minnesota icon with a story to tell. Goldy began his illustrious career as U of M mascot in the 1940s, but the story of the famed gopher begins almost a century earlier.
Chosen to be Minnesota’s official animal in 1857, Goldy’s ancestors were the first of their kind to receive such an honor. That same year, Minnesota was declared the Gopher State.
Taking advantage of the natural connection, Clarence Spears, U of M football coach, named his team the Gophers in 1926. Several years later, Bernie Bierman’s champion football team was coined the “golden swarm,” a reference to their gold-colored jerseys, and the team soon became the “Golden Gophers.”
The earliest rendering of the U’s mascot, appearing in the 1940s, was an image used for merchandising purposes, Since that time, Goldy has developed a strong connection with the community. So strong, in fact, that some of the changes to Goldy’s appearance over the years have drawn some passionate responses. In the 1979 version, some questioned Goldy’s lack of ferocity perceived as necessary in a collegiate mascot. Others were alarmed when our gopher took on a fiercer persona in 1985. But through the criticism, Goldy stood tall.
Goldy has been a true ambassador for the University. For many Minnesotans, Goldy is the face of the University, with an energy inspiring competition and school spirit and a character emanating sportsmanship and respect.
Today, Goldy appears at sporting events, school functions, birthday parties, weddings and even has his own hangout in Coffman Memorial Union. Goldy has represented the U well and, in turn, the University has taken good care of its mascot. You know you're doing something right if your gopher is still going strong at 60. What will the next 60 years bring? Watch and see.