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From Normals to Sun Devils, the History of ASU Mascots

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ASU chapter.

When you think of Arizona State University, one of the few things that you instantly picture (besides innovation of course) is probably Sparky, the Sun Devil. The funny little devil with a strange little mustache and a mischievous smile, is generally loved by students and faculty. He is considered THE  symbol for the school, especially in sports.


A day made for the country’s best mascot ? #NationalMascotDay pic.twitter.com/ZhJcoIKPyu

— Sparky the Sun Devil (@SparkySunDevil) June 17, 2020


Anytime I’ve been to any major ASU event, I know that Sparky’s around and there’s bound to be a couple of students coming up for a picture. The Sun Devil is basically a cute little celebrity, whose antics ASU fans can’t help but laugh and smile at or even cheer along to as he crushes the school’s opponents.

However, he hasn’t always been ASU’s mascot. ASU’s history  began with a teacher’s college called the “Tempe Normal School in 1885.” The college wasn’t involved in any official organized sport until 1891, beginning with baseball. Soon after, other sports followed, whose teams were then referred to as the “Normals.” A bit of a strange name but hey, a little devil is normalized as a mascot currently, so who am I to judge?

There are claims of the school having been considered the “Owls” but University archivist, Robert Spindler told student-run news organization State Press, he doubts such reference ever publicly existed. Nonetheless, whether an owl was ever a mascot or not, what did follow was the Bulldogs.

Around the 1920’s, the school transitioned into the “Arizona State Teacher’s College,” leading to the adoption of the Bulldog in 1922. For 24 years, the school’s athletics kept this mascot but then the student community changed everything, probably for the better. On November 8, 1946, the students voted 819 to 196 to change the mascot into a Sun Devil, leading to the creation of the beloved Sparky we have now.


Pitchforks are gold. Tempe Town Lake is blue. Sparky’s lookin’ for a Valentine and I know you are too ? pic.twitter.com/lnReFDES9i

— Sparky the Sun Devil (@SparkySunDevil) February 15, 2020


It was actually ASU alumni and former Disney employee Berk Anthony who created the Sun Devil, beginning  as the school’s logo. In the 1950s, Sparky was officially portrayed by ASU student Dick Jacobs, a trained gymnast that did crazy moves which  would be seen as “very dangerous” nowadays as said by Spindler.


Back then, Sparky was a simple costume consisting of a jumpsuit with a tail and a pitchfork. Throughout the years, the Sun Devil has clearly changed by updating in his aesthetic  through various costume material evolutions.

Our devilish little friend has definitely had quite the journey, maybe not coming in early but apparently just in time. Better late than never, right?

Diana Arellano Barajas is a junior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Arizona State University. She LOVES creating: graphics, animation, video editing, it's all fair game! Originally from a small town in Mexico, Diana currently resides in Phoenix. In her free time, if she isn't found attached to a book, she's writing about everything and anything including experimenting with visual content. Excited to write for HerCampus, Diana's ready to make readers smile, laugh, and possibly cry (in a good way). Feel free to contact her here: dianaarellano753@yahoo.com