Alex and the Bear

Long before his forays into the future of transportation, Alex Israel ’06 was already proving his knack for identifying a communal need and finding a way to address it. As president of the Associated Students of the University of Puget Sound in 2005–06, he made it a priority to find a new mascot for the school.

By that point, Puget Sound teams had been known as the Loggers for about a century, and for a time the mascot was a guy in a lumberjack costume, wearing a mask and wielding a hatchet—not especially huggable as sports mascots go. Israel and his vice president, Ryan McAninch ’06, initially floated the notion of a blue ox—like Babe, the sidekick of legendary logger Paul Bunyan—but it didn’t catch on. On the hunt for additional inspiration, they learned that before 1910, Puget Sound teams had been known as the Grizzlies. Eureka!

Many planning meetings, focus groups, and prototypes later, Grizz was born: a cheery bear, clad in plaid and denim, and wearing a beanie (a nod to the beanies that first-year students were required to wear until 1961). The campus community and alumni gave their thumbs-up, and Grizz—voiceless yet endlessly effervescent—debuted at halftime of the 2006 Homecoming football game. To this day, two or three students each year take turns wearing the furry suit and going wherever needed, from revving up the crowd at basketball games to welcoming incoming students and families on move-in day.

 

By Sara Marcus
Photo by Sy Bean
Published Feb. 13, 2020