The University of Winnipeg’s Wes Lee Coyote has been given an update just in time for the university’s 50th anniversary in 2017.
Athletics director Dave Cook says it was about time for a fresh take on the mascot since the retired version had been starting to “show his age” after 15 years of service – that’s 105 in coyote years, the university points out. Mr. Cook, who sits on the institution’s anniversary committee, proposed the revamp as a way to mark the milestone.
The university announced the old Wes Lee’s retirement on December 5 with a humorous video of the coyote saying goodbye to old haunts and forlornly high-fiving his way through the university’s athletic centre before hitting a campus pub. The next day, the new mascot was revealed with much fanfare around campus.
But there’s more to this makeover than meets the eye. The new mascot costume has a more comfortable design and padding for the wearer, Mr. Cook explains. It now includes a battery-operated fan in the hand-sculpted head and space for ice packs along the body to help keep the wearer cool. These will allow Wes Lee to participate in more events, especially in the outdoor heat, Mr. Cook says. (The university estimates the old Wes Lee attended more than 1,000 events since 2001.)
According to Shayne Pfeifer, a student who plays Wes Lee Coyote, the new suit is “head and shoulders better” than the old one. In terms of bringing that persona to life, Mr. Pfeifer says it’s important not to over-complicate things, that wearing the suit is about “forgetting who you are and just trying to entertain people.”
Wes Lee Coyote plays an important role in promoting school spirit, marketing the university and its Wesmen athletics program, says Mr. Cook. After all, “the Wesmen is such a weird name,” he kids, and Wes Lee is “a nice representative of who we are.”