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The Story of SPIRIT
"After the 1955-1956 undefeated men's basketball season, the coaches and teams wanted a fiercer, more collegiate mascot than the "Techmen" that we used to be. The Tiger was adopted. We bought a tiger for $1,000 and named him "SPIRIT", which stood for Student Pride in RIT. He came to campus events and sports games until he became too big, at which time he was kept in the Senaca Park Zoo. We couldn't get another when he died becasue of the endangered species act, so we now have RITchie."
I learned this story and thought nothing of it. Today, while procrastinating writing a lab, I stumbled across a story in the RIT archives written by David Page, which gives a lot of insight to the story of SPIRIT. Dave was a 1966 RIT graduate and one of the students most intimately involved with SPIRIT's story at RIT.
An ad-hoc "Tiger Committee" was formed, and they borrowed $1,000 from Student Government to buy the baby Bengal Tiger to be our mascot. He was to be brought to campus until he became too big, and once that happened the plan was to get a mate so that there could always be an RIT tiger.
To repay the $1,000, the plan was to sell "shares" of the tiger for $1 apiece. Three hundred were sold the first week, and the rest were easily sold once the tiger arrived to campus. Andy Davidhazy is credited with coming up with the name SPIRIT.
Several students were traned to be SPIRIT's handlers, and spent a lot of time with him. Dave recounts entertaining SPIRIT in between appearances during sporting events. "Often that meant his chasing me around the unused Clark gym during the hockey periods. SPIRIT loved his time on campus and was very comfortable with students. He truly loved being with people. He and I became good friends."
Later that school year, SPIRIT was diagnosed with a calcium deficiency. Dave went to the zoo to be with SPIRIT during his final time, and he died on Sept. 28 1964, less than a year after his inclusion in the RIT community.
Another tiger was purchased, but the breeding program never got off the ground.
Today, you can honor SPIRIT's memory by spreading his story, saluting the bronze tiger statue (at least in your mind), and cheering on our RIT TIGERS!!!
Imformation taken from http://www2.rit.edu/175/ritmemories.html. The article is about halfway down the page, right next to the same picture seen in this blog. I would recommend reading it - I have not done it justice