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Sit! Stay! Read!

Stevie Pointer is the subject of a purported unauthorized biog

Jeanne Nagle | Just for Fun | August 26, 2020

Funny what you might find when you’re doing a little housekeeping.

Among the boxed files that Director of Alumni Affairs Laura Gehrman Rottier brought with her when asked to work from home this past spring, due to the novel coronavirus, was a dog-eared manuscript that caught her eye immediately. Titled “Stevie Pointer: Behind the Cheers,” the scruffy document was a draft biography of none other than Stevie Pointer—winner of the 1997 Americup Cheer and Dance Championship collegiate mascot title.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” says Gehrman Rottier. “I read it through in one evening. I mean, who doesn’t like a good tell-all?”

Like its source and time of delivery, the book’s author remains shrouded in mystery. There was no “As told to” credit to be found on its title page.

The manuscript is a sentimental, homegrown find for the university. UWSP archivist Brad Casselberry likens its discovery to the 2016 unearthing of cannisters containing a short film about Stevens Point, which had been tucked away in the library. Part of a promotional “This Is Our Town” series examining locations throughout the Midwest, the movie was shot in 1954—one year after Stevie Pointer made his first appearance in Central State’s Iris yearbook.

Even though the manuscript is not labeled as such, Gehrman Rottier and Casselberry are certain that the discovery is an unauthorized work. For his entire, decades-long tenure as the university’s mascot, Stevie has been infamously reluctant to give interviews for many reasons, not the least of which is that he is basically mute. His input with regard to the book would have been nothing short of miraculous. Additionally, Stevie could not be reached for comment on this story because … well, you know.

Efforts are under way to authenticate the manuscript and determine who the author is. Once that is accomplished, Gehrman Rottier and UWSP Advancement Director of Communications, Marketing and Annual Giving Nicole Weir would love to have Cornerstone Press publish the book as one of its titles for 2021.

In the meantime—and to celebrate National Dog Day (Aug. 26)—the Cupola Post is proud to share excerpts and factoids from the manuscript that will shed a little light on Stevie’s life journey, as well as his place in every Pointer’s heart.

Origin Story
The year was 1894, and Stevens Point couldn’t have been prouder of the newest jewel in its crown. After a hard-won competition among several Wisconsin cities, the right to build the state’s sixth normal school was met with the proclamation “The world is ours!” Everything on the academic landscape was falling into place. Stevens Point and its normal school appeared to have it all.

But within a year of the school’s opening, it became evident to students that something was missing—a mascot. Enter the doggo who would become Stevie Pointer.

Not much is known about Stevie’s puppyhood. In fact, he seems to have arrived on the scene in full-on adult dog mode. An inked profile of an unnamed Pointer dog on the cover of the school newspaper, starting in December of 1916, stood as a clue to his identity. However, historians have since noted that this particular Pointer looks nothing like the Stevie we all know and love; claims that this dog was an imposter or neophyte stand-in abound.

The first confirmed Stevie sighting came in the 1953 edition of Central State Teachers College’s yearbook, Iris. (Mascot scholars acknowledge this as an official appearance because Stevie is identified by name for the very first time.) Decked out in themed human clothing, the doggy mascot acted as a tour guide, pointing—of course—readers through the who’s who and what’s what of the academic year. This iteration of the anthropomorphic pooch was “birthed” by Judy Clayton, sophomore class secretary and yearbook art contributor.

In Dog’s Image
By the 1960s, Stevie had become inexorably connected to the university as an athletics mascot and goodwill ambassador. It’s no wonder, then, that he was chosen as the face (and body) of the Alumni Association when, in 1969, the group had membership lapel pins made in his likeness. Silver Stevie pins were given to those who donated to the Alumni Association as annual members, while those who pledged as “lifetime associates” received a gold pup to sport on their jacket, sweater or blouse.

This may have been the first, but it would not be the last time Stevie would appear as a promotional collectible. A 1980s university fundraiser offered a stuffed, plush Stevie for sale, and a Stevie bobblehead was a big hit in 2003.

Pretenders to the Throne
As UWSP athletics teams have been challenged by conference opponents, so has Stevie faced challenges of his own from other school mascots, including several from within the University of Wisconsin System. Rumor has it that UWSP’s Pointer-in-Chief particularly is not a fan of Bucky the Badger, whose televised D-I appearances and status as a Mascot Hall of Fame inductee have made him quite the Big Critter on Campus within the System—and subsequently, “animalia non grata” in certain Midwest mascot circles. (Editor’s note: Unreliable sources have gone so far as to say Stevie and Bucky haven’t been on speaking terms for years, but, again—this can’t be stressed enough—they’re mascots. They haven’t been on speaking terms with anybody. Ever.)

Yet to find interlopers hoping to snatch Stevie’s canine crown from him, one need look no further than the UWSP campus. No less than two “regular” dogs have been brought in to serve as UWSP mascots. To be fair, neither of these “live mascots” was out for blood. Patty the Pointer, who served with UWSP Football from 1972 through 1975, was happy in the role of assistant to Stevie, as the duo trotted out onto the field at halftime during home games. The English Pointer McKenzie, who was recruited in 2008, seems to have been happy just to give a high five or happy tail wag for people on campus.

We won’t even get into the thing about Mad Dog, the ice hockey mascot who wasn’t so much out to take over Stevie’s job as … well, frankly, just plain nuts. His antics at games made a strong case for an investment in mascot obedience school. But he sure knew how to get the crowd revved up!

You Dog, You!
As a good lookin’ fella in possession of a steady gig for several decades, Stevie has had more than his fair share of female admirers. Even with a delicious romantic history to mine, many ne’er-do-wells have taken it upon themselves to spread rumors about Stevie and his paramours. At one time or another the UWSP mascot has been linked to (Editor Note: Inappropriate yet etymologically correct nomenclature for female dog) that run the gamut from colleagues (Dean Herbert Steiner’s beloved dog Sandy in the 1940s) to celebrities (Wisconsin’s own Rumor, the German Shepherd that won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2017).

Despite these supposed dalliances, those close to Stevie confide that his heart belongs to his distaff mascot counterpart, Stephanie. The two worked closely for years on campus until the late 2000s, when Stephanie became something of a recluse. Those closest to the couple suspect that life in the limelight had become distasteful to Stephanie, particularly after speculation that she and Stevie were expecting a litter hit the pages of UWSP’s ratty tabloid, The Pointless, in 2008. (Editor’s note: The timing of this scandalous story being leaked and “live mascot” McKenzie’s arrival on campus appear to be totally coincidental. But haters gonna hate.) Regardless, sources confirm the couple is still very much an item, although Stephanie has asked the press and public to respect their privacy going forward.

From “Mad Dawg” to “Good Boy”
Over time, people—and mascots—change. After all, Stevie’s appearance went from sophisticated, anthropomorphic “dog about town” in the Iris to a Snoopy-esque, happy-go-lucky pup (as envisioned by local commercial artist Walt Boscamp) in less than two decades. Alumni may also remember a time when Stevie went through an awkward stage beginning in the 1990s, with pronounced fangs and bat-like raised ears, accompanied by a wide-eyed, flat stare.

He seemed to have matured almost overnight, and the emotional change transformed his countenance in the process. His features grew softer, and he seemed more approachable. Gone were the protruding cuspids—or canine teeth, if you will—and his hyper-focused eyes turned warm, blue and kindly. In short, Stevie became the beloved mascot every Pointer knows and loves today. Good boy, Stevie! Long may you reign.


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