July 19, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - For a second-consecutive year - and again just days before the 2013 Southern Conference Football Media Day - Western Carolina football is making a splash with its new head gear. As excitement continues to build for the 2013 season, second-year head coach Mark Speir has unveiled the new-look for the Catamount football helmet.
The new-look helmet for 2013 comes one year after returning the domes to a deep purple color with reflective gold metallic flake and a matching deep purple facemask and chin strap. The new, symmetrical logo features a smaller version of the current WCU athletics logo with a white "WCU" arched over and outlined in gold. The logo will grace both sides of the helmet with the Catamount head logo facing forward.
Speir stated that returning the helmets to purple was the first thing he wanted to do upon his return, but was reluctant to change the logo until he was sure what he wanted the mark for his tenure to be. He wanted a clean look and something stable to last through the years he's head coach.
According to available research, the 2013 look will mark just the second time in program history that the letters "WCU" that abbreviate Western Carolina University will adorn the school's football helmet. The other instance came in 1989 under head coach Dale Strahm which featured a yellow-gold helmet with an LSU-style design including a purple-white tri-stripe down the middle and WCU in purple arched over the Catamount logo of the time.
"The big thing last year was changing back to the traditional purple helmets which is what WCU has been known for," said Speir, who was on staff from 1991 through 1996 prior to returning as the head coach in 2012. "We preach to our guys that we want them to come to Western Carolina not just for football, but to be excited about coming to WCU as a total package. After four years, this is going to be your school, your alma mater and your legacy."
He added, "With the helmet, I wanted not only the sports logo with the Catamount head, but also the University name prominently on our jersey and head gear so that people all over don't just see the logo, but also that mark and the WCU."
Since 1969 when the legendary former head coach Bob Waters stepped foot on the WCU campus, Catamount football teams have worn purple helmets for 39 of the 44 years. The only exceptions were the aforementioned 1989 season under Strahm and four seasons under former head coach Dennis Wagner which featured metallic gold helmet with the new logo and three "cat scratches" down the center.
With the introduction of the newest Catamount logo in 2008, the football program converted to gold helmets marking just the third time in program history it had gone away from the purple headgear.
Whereas Western Carolina has sported solid purple domes on the football field numerous times in its history, the team has also used myriad of logos to adorn the helmets over time. Prior to the 1971 season, Waters and his staff decided that the helmets needed a new look - and as it turned out, it became the most recognizable helmet moniker in program history. The script "The Cats" hit the headgear and, over time, became the tradition of WCU football.
Although the print of the script changed in color - going from white to gold - "The Cats" remained on the Catamount football helmets for 27 of the next 29 years with the lone exception coming in 1989 under Strahm and the 1990 season which again featured a un-logoed, purple helmet.
Under former head coach Bill Bleil, WCU underwent another helmet change in 1999 with a golden block "W" on both sides and a white-and-gold, tri-stripe down the middle which was on the headgear for three seasons. Former Waters' quarterback and assistant coach, Kent Briggs, brought "The Cats" back to the helmets in 2002 upon his hiring, adding a modern treatment to those dynamic duo of words, and a cat-like look with eyes and whiskers enveloping the word mark.
The modern "The Cats" look stayed until 2008 when the purple helmets gave way to the aforementioned golden domes.
The 2013 Southern Conference Media Day will be held Wednesday, July 24 at the Spartanburg Marriott in Spartanburg, S.C. In addition to a kickoff luncheon and interviews, the preseason All-SoCon teams and projected standings by both the league's nine head coaches and voting media will be released.
Western Carolina and the Catamount Club will host the "unofficial kickoff" to fall with the Western Open on Wednesday, Aug. 1 with the squad officially reporting for fall camp on Thursday, Aug. 2. First practice of the fall season is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 3.
Season tickets for 2013 are on-sale now by calling the WCU ticket office at (800) 34-GOWCU or visiting the ticket page on CatamountSports.com. In commemoration of the 1983 National Runner-Up WCU football squad, any NEW season ticket holder for 2013 can receive special "1983 pricing" of tickets to all five home games for just $83. Call the ticket office for this special offer.
Important Catamount Football Dates to Remember:
Wed., July 24 - Southern Conference Football Media Day; Spartanburg, S.C.
Thurs., August 1 - 2013 Catamount football student-athletes report for camp
Fri., August 2 - First scheduled football practice of the 2013 preseason
Tues., August 6 - First scheduled football practice in full pads
Wed., August 7 - The Western Open golf tournament; Waynesville Inn Golf Resort & Spa in Waynesville, N.C.
Fri., August 9 - Catamount 101 - Ladies Love Football event, Cullowhee (5:30 pm)
Sat., August 10 - Catamount Tailgate Kickoff (Catamount Club members)
Mon., August 19 - First day of fall classes at WCU
Mon., August 19 - Football single-game tickets go on sale
Thurs., August 29 - 2013 Catamount Football season-opener at Middle Tennessee; Murfreesboro, Tenn. (6:30 pm CT / 7:30 pm ET)
Fri., September 13 - The Bob Waters Memorial golf tournament; High Vista Country Club in Mills River, N.C.
Sat., September 14 - 2013 Catamount Football home opener vs. The Citadel (3:30 pm)