Unlike most birds, Thor the Thunderbird has withstood the test of time. The SUU student body became the Thunderbirds in 1961. However, it took SUU a few years and a couple of mascots to settle on having an avian representation of the God of Thunder as a mascot.
The institution known as SUU originally started out as the University of Utah’s Branch Normal School with no mascot. In 1931 it became the Branch Agricultural School (BAC) under the Utah Agricultural College in Logan, which is now known as Utah State University. That means SUU students were Aggies for 14 years.
In 1946, SUU tried a different change of pace and became the BAC Broncos; but SUU students weren’t born to run, they were born to fly.
After being the BAC Broncos for five years, SUU became the Thunderbirds in 1951.
Fifty-six years later, Thor the Thunderbird is still as prevalent as ever, but there is still somewhat of a mystery around the way Thor received his current name.
“I know that the name Thor is pretty recent, maybe when the new logo was coined, but I know it became really popular when President Benson started using the name Thor for our athletic mark,” Creative Director for SUU Athletics Joey DeGraaf said. “I think we were calling the actual mascot Thor before that point though.”
Director of Alumni and Community Relations Ron Cardon mentioned that Larry Baker found evidence of a mascot costume in 1987 which suggested the name Thor might have been around since then.
Although the origin of Thor is still up for debate, Degraff stated that there have been four to six mascots since 2000 to represent Thor.
The current Thor has been in his position since May.
“One of my favorite things [about being Thor is] at football games … when someone comes up to me and they get really excited and say, ‘Hey I was Thor back in the day,’” said the current Thor. “It’s kind of cool because it’s [almost] like this brotherhood. You instantly have that connection … Not a whole lot of people know what it is like to be Thor, so it’s fun to be a part of the legacy.”
No matter what the history of Thor is, or how he got his name, students and alumni can agree that seeing Thor is one of the highlights of any athletic event. Everything from giving him a high five or watching him shake his tail feathers during the halftime show makes these events even more memorable.
Even though the person behind the Thor mask may come and go, the legend of Thor the Thunderbird will continue throughout the ages. But who is the man behind the mask? What is it like for him to be with the crowds and silently cheer on the team? Find out in the next edition of the University Journal.
Featured Photo By
Carlee Jo Blumenthal
Additional Photography Courtesy of Joey DeGraaf