Even though our UCF apartments are off campus, we believe wholeheartedly in school spirit here at Northgate Lakes; whether you’re a freshman or have been a student at the University of Central Florida for years, chances are you’re familiar with Knightro, the UCF mascot who has been cheering us on since 1994. From campus to student apartments and everywhere in between, Knightro can be found in Oviedo both on and off campus. But are you aware that there were several alternative mascots prior to Knightro’s introduction?
Originally, in 1968, UCF was Florida Technological University; it used a seal to represent the newest university established in rural East Orlando. The story of the seal began in 1966 when a local citizen sent a letter to the governor of Florida, Haydon Burns, asking that he take some items into consideration when creating the new seal. Eventually, after two years in design and a long criteria list, the seal was created with the symbol of Pegasus to “bridge the gap between the humanities and space technology.” The colors on that original seal are still used today, and that seal was the starting point for several more mascots that came later.
In 1969 a new “Citronaut” mascot, which many felt looked like an orange mixed with the popular television show The Jetsons, was introduced. The new Citronaut was met with large disapproval from students and lasted only one year as the mascot before the student-run newspaper proposed an alternative. A committee ended up going through over 80 submissions before the Knights of Pegasus (or Knights for short) received 824 of the 1,313 student votes, and a new mascot was unveiled on December 4, 1970, during a basketball game. The new image of a knight’s head with a helmet was the perfect fit and “aligned the school’s athletics mascot with the university’s seal, which prominently features a Pegasus1.”
In the early 1980s the University of Central Florida decided to decided to revamp their mascot in an attempt to draw attention and motivate students to become involved with the failing football program. In quick succession Sir Wins-a-lot, dragon-themed Puff (Pete the Dragon), and Mack the Knight were introduced to excited fans. For a period of time the games were opened with the cast of Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament performing pregame medieval-period scenes dressed in the school and the opposing team’s colors.
In 1993 the “Golden Knights” were introduced to the world. Steve Sloan, new full-time athletics director, determined that a new nickname for the school would help boost sales of athletics merchandise, an area in which the school had been previously underperforming. The new moniker was picked up by the football team initially and later spread to the entire athletics department.
The final changes to the UCF mascot came in 1994. After Sir Wins-a-lot, Puff, and Mack the Knight all did not last, a committee was formed to develop a new character mascot to attend athletic events. A new golden mascot was revealed, and Knightro has been encouraging fans and uplifting spirits ever since. In 2003 and 2004 he even placed 10th in the UCA Mascot National Championships, and in 1999 he finished fourth, quieting students who wanted an alternative mascot.