By Shelby Ford
Willie the Orca has made it to the Elite Eight of the Northwest Athletic Conference’s mascot challenge.
The mascot challenge is a five-week competition for a $1,000 prize that will go to purchasing a new costume. Willie is currently No. 7 in the rankings, and moving into Week 3.
The challenge for the week of Jan. 23 – Jan. 27 was “Get Involved.”
Competing schools must create a video showing their mascot working with the community or with a non-profit organization. Student Life chose to feature the Orca Food Pantry. Whatcom’s Orca Food Pantry is a cabinet filled with non-perishable food items that is stocked by students, to be used by students.
Whatcom employee Lucas Nydam has been helping Willie in his journey. Willie has not been active for several years, but recently Nydam has decided to revive the mascot and the 18-year-old suit.
“The reason we haven’t used him in a while is because he needed to be dry cleaned,” said Nydam, “now he is clean and smells a lot better.”
Nydam hopes Willie wins the competition, but he says even if they don’t win the challenge, they will still be getting a new costume.
Willie’s journey has been a collaborative effort of Student Life, student leaders and ambassadors. These students have even been the ones wearing the suit.
“Everybody has been Willie, I’ve even worn the costume,” Nydam said. “I tell people when they wear the suit, you have to lose yourself to the mask. Become Willie.”
Willie the Orca will be seen at more sports games and events around campus.
“Willie is not just a sports mascot, he’s Whatcom’s mascot,” Nydam said.
To support Willie, Nydam says, to head over to the Whatcom Athletics Facebook page and like the video.