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Ms. Adventure

Since she burst on the scene in a spirit of gleeful independence nearly five decades ago, Ms. Wuf has thrived as part of NC State's ultimate power couple.

Mr. and Ms. Wuf on a cart decorated with a giant Wolfpack helmet.
Ms. and Mr. Wuf catch a ride onto the field before the start of a game against Clemson.

Ms. Wuf was born during the Age of Aquarius, a daughter of the women’s liberation movement of the 1970s. She made her first appearance in the fall of 1975, just after NC State debuted three women’s varsity athletics squads.

The 50-year evolution of a student-portrayed companion to the longstanding male mascot has changed from overalls to a halter dress with crinoline, always topped with a bright red bow. The male mascot first appeared in the 1950s, when select members of the Red Coat Marching Band wore fiberglass wolf heads, often as they played a large NC State bass drum at midfield. His transition through the years has been equally dramatic.

The first human wolf mascot was introduced by the cheerleading squad in the early 1960s, a homemade fuzzy felt costume with a floppy head.

“It looked like a rat,” says Jim Hefner, a native of Hickory who portrayed the male wolf from 1973 to 1976, when members of the cheerleading squad began to institute traditions that are held dear to students and alumni.

Mr. and Ms. Wuf pose with Fury, a bronze sculpture at the team entrance at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Mr. and Ms. Wuf pose with Fury, a bronze sculpture at the team entrance at Carter-Finley Stadium.

Back then, working on a shoestring budget with Associate Athletics Director Frank Weedon as adviser and John Mandrano as captain, the cheerleaders had free rein to develop iconic gestures, salutes and routines.

Weedon and Hefner worked with School of Design professor Vincent Foote, the program’s faculty sponsor, to develop a more approachable mascot with a friendlier oversized face and a more elaborate costume. Hefner asked about adding a female mascot too.

During the 1973-74 men’s basketball season, members of the cheerleading squad befriended their counterparts from UCLA, first at a made-for-television game in St. Louis, where the new Mr. Wolf costume made its debut, then at the NCAA semifinals in Greensboro. The West Coast school was one of the few in the nation at the time that had male and female mascots, Joe and Josephine Bruin.

When David Thompson, Tommy Burleson, Monte Towe and the Wolfpack ended the Bruins’ seven-year run as national champions by beating the Bruins in the semifinals and Marquette for the first team championship in school history, it created an opportunity to expand the cheerleading squad, especially to mimic UCLA’s dual mascots.

Taking the Field

Junior varsity cheerleader Elizabeth Jan Seymour of Goldsboro was chosen as the first female mascot, then called Miss Wolf, a year after the national championship. She made her debut at Carter Stadium on Sept. 6, 1975, in a football game against East Carolina, the same afternoon the cheerleaders debuted their hand gesture now known as “wolf hands.”

“We always took our cheerleaders and both mascots to summer camps,” says Cathy Buckey, NC State’s cheerleading coach from 1979-98. “And it was always special that we were one of the few schools that had a male and female mascot.

“It took other schools a lot of years to come around to that.”

The two wolves worked in harmony through the rest of the 1970s, and Weedon wanted to make that union permanent. On Feb. 28, 1981, the mascots exchanged wedding vows during halftime of a men’s basketball game against Wake Forest. Chancellor John Caldwell gave the bride away and Wake’s Demon Deacon mascot performed the ceremony at midcourt.

Depending on whom you ask, it was the most famous wedding of the year, challenging the royal extravaganza in London with Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

The mascots’ name changed to “Wuf” during the 1982-83 when the male mascot, Scott Joseph, debuted a new body costume made by his mother. When she began sewing his name on the back of the jersey he wore, she didn’t have enough room to spell “Wolf,” so she shortened it. Since things turned out so well at the end of that men’s basketball season—when the Wolfpack men won its second NCAA Championship—the name stuck.

Both are now integral parts of NC State’s robust cheer and spirit programs, which includes a seven-member coaching staff and more than 50 men and women that make up two full squads.

Through the years, the mascots, male and female, have fared well at national competitions, where they spread NC State’s unique brand in dance routines and performances. In 2006, Mr. Wuf was named the nation’s top mascot and the following year Ms. Wuf repeated that accomplishment.

More importantly, they have stood as the school’s friendliest ambassadors at games and campus events, who are also available at a nominal fee for private events such as weddings, birthday parties, corporate events and even funerals.