Mascot History

Westmont Warrior Turns Sixty

By Ron Smith
September 24, 2007
Revised August 9, 2010

Horizon – Oct. 31, 1947

For over sixty years, Westmont has used the nickname "Warriors" as a mascot to represent the school and its athletic teams.  The name has become an important part of the college’s history and identity, especially for its athletic teams.  Each fall, new students and athletes at the picturesque college in the foothills of Montecito are taught what it means to be a Warrior and how to live up to the traditions and expectations that being a Warrior entails.

According to an announcement in the October 31, 1947 edition of the Horizon, the Westmont student body voted to adopt the name Warriors as the school’s mascot.  Previously, the Westmont teams were known as the Wildcats. 

In the fall of 1940, just three years after the formation of the college and the first year in which the college was called ‘Westmont’, four intramural teams were formed with the names Plutocrats, Bearcats, Livewires and Wildcats.  These four teams competed with each other in several sports throughout the year.

By 1945, the Westmont intercollegiate teams were using the name Wildcats as their mascot.  But in the student body vote of 1947, Warriors was by far and away the winner, racking up 127 votes as compared to just 34 for Wildcats, 25 for Pioneers and 13 for Rams.  The election results were announced at the end of the first quarter of the Westmont – Biola football game.  Perhaps the name Warriors had a special place for a society just two years removed from the end of World War II.

The subsequent report in the Horizon includes a rendering of a helmeted Warrior wielding a sword and caring a triangular shield with a large "W".  The Warrior’s clothing appears to be inspired by Roman soldiers of old, complete with a breastplate.

Whether this image was ever adopted by Westmont athletic teams or used in other Westmont publications is not clear, but the Warrior certainly has found different artistic expressions over the years. 

1954 Citadel Warrior

1958 Basketball Brochure

The 1953 Citadel yearbook used the Warrior as a graphical theme throughout the publication.  It pictures a kneeling Warrior, complete with sandals, sword, helmet and shield. While the helmet seems to be Roman in style, the clothing seems to be inspired by an English theme.  A large cross on the breastplate suggests the fabled knights of the roundtable.

An image in the 1954 Citadel shows just the head of a Warrior with a maroon plume on his helmet.  To some, the Warrior appears to have his eyes closed in a posture of prayer or contemplation.  To others, he appears to be casting a steely gaze forward.

By the late ‘50s Westmont’s Warrior had a name and a new look. A friendly looking "Willie the Warrior" was seen not only in print, but also on the sidelines of basketball games.  A Willie head was worn by Westmont cheerleaders to help inspire the Warriors to victory at the Santa Barbara Armory where basketball games were played.

The Horizon adopted Willie during the 1958-59 school year for a "Willie Says" column in which Willie offered sage advice from Shakespeare and other literature.

As late as 1961, the Westmont College Student Association used a full-body image of Willie the Warrior on its letterhead.

The Warrior as a graphic was rarely seen on publications during most of the 1960s and ‘70s even though the name "Warriors" continued to be in use.  The name "Willie" seems to have faded away in the early 1960s.  In place of a Warrior mascot, athletic publications tended to use the school’s logo which featured a rounded "W" with a cross and the school’s name.

By the early 1980’s Warrior images begin to reappear in athletic media guides.  However, the images were sparingly used and were confined to small sizes.  A grumpy looking Warrior with sword drawn and a yellow plume was in use in 1980-1982. 

During the 1982-83 school year, the Warrior appears for the first time mounted on a horse, carrying a spear and as a silhouette – all three of which are precursors to the mascot which was to follow.  The logo appears to be the product of a rubber stamp.

1984-2008

During the 1984-85 season, a logo Warrior came into existance that was used for the next 24 years.  While the silhouette image went through minor revisions, it remained essentially the same until 2007-08.  Concentric circles made up the shield and a faceless Warrior, appearing in profile and mounted on a horse, carried a spear. For near a quarter of a century, the Warrior stood guard at center court in Murchison Gymnasium.

In 2008-09, renovation of Murchison and the installation of Kammerer Court, prompted a makeover of the Warrior. Chase Design Group in Los Angeles was commissioned for the project, overseen by award-winning designer Margo Chase.

The resulting logo incorporates aspects of the images of the past and represents the values of Westmont Athletics. The maroon shield in the background and the plume atop the helmet help to tie the modern Warrior image to its previous incarnations. The hidden eyes and scerene expression are reminscent of the 1954 Warrior and incorporate a silhouette motiff. Once again, his expression could be that of prayer or contemplation, or it could be a steely gaze forward. The laurel wreath surrounding the Warrior has several meanings. The shield and the wreaths provide a tie to images used by the institution in other contexts and testify to the important link betweem athletics and the academic community. The laurel wreaths are also the prize for which Olympic athletes of old competed and represent the excellence to which Westmont Athletics is committed. The competition for a laurel wreath, mentioned twice in the New Testament, also recalls the faith in Christ which is foundational to who we are and testifies to a greater crown for which we compete, serve and live.

Special thanks to Corey Thomas, Westmont College Archivist, for her research assistance and help with providing images.

Today’s Warrior