The Chronicles of Zippy

The Zipper, the Kangaroo and the Award

Zippy letting everyone know who is #1. (Photo courtesy of The University of Akron)

Zippy letting everyone know who is #1. (Photo courtesy of The University of Akron)

By Robert Barrett, Jr., Copy Editor

Since 1925, The University of Akron’s athletes have been known as the Zippers, shortened to Zips in 1950. But it was not until 1953 that UA became home to the mascot we now know as Zippy.

In 1952, a UA student was chosen by the student council president to lead a committee on finding a mascot for the University. Dick Hansford, the student council advisor recommended a kangaroo as the mascot. The announcement in The Buchtelite on May 6, 1953 said, “Student Council unanimously approved a motion by the Kangaroo Committee to adopt a stuffed representation of a kangaroo as a symbol for the University.  Bob Savoy, chairman of the committee reported that all campus organizations contacted were in favor of the change in name, stressing the fact that a Zip, cannot be pictured”

The Buchtelite reported on Dec. 18, 1953 that the kangaroo was a popular choice because it was not an overused mascot. Three versions of the mascot were approved for a contest to be held in The Buchtelite. Ted Dick drew the winning sketch which included many of the aspects we see in Zippy today.

A 1953 sketch of the new kangaroo mascot. Originally referred to as “Mr. Zip” despite being a female. (Sketch courtesy of The University of Akron)

Mr. Zip, as the mascot was known, first appeared at a sporting event on Oct. 1, 1955. It was not until 1965 that “Zippy” received her first print reference in a football brochure and on Sept. 24, 1965 The Buchtelite used the name Zippy for the first time. The original Zippy costume was a paper mache head with a brown furry uniform. The prototypical Zippy costume we see today was purchased in 1977.

Zippy in 1978. (Photo courtesy of The University of Akron)

Zippy received national recognition in 2007 when she won the Capital One Mascot of the Year Challenge. Zippy went 13-0 in the contest and later received her green jacket at a ceremony during halftime of the 2008 Capital One Bowl game. Zippy also scored a $10,000 scholarship fund for UA.

Then in May 2017, The University Akron Police reported that two Zippy costumes had been reported as missing. One costume was found after a student in the Zippy program realized the costume had not been returned after originally believing it had been returned. The other costume was never found. Major Dale Gooding Jr. of the UAPD said the misplaced costume may have been an inventory error.

Look for Zippy around campus, at University functions and the next time you attend a UA sporting event.

This article would not have been possible without the help of The University of Akron Archival Services, in particular, John Ball and Corey Lowe.