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Our Mascot: The Golden Bear

How did Upper Arlington become known as the Golden Bears?

In 1928, the Upper Arlington schools formed a committee to select an athletic team name. After reviewing mascot names in a college guide, high schoolers Wayne Geissinger and Dallas Head—with Dallas’ father, Depew—proposed the Golden Bears as “attractive and durable.” It was the winning proposal.

First references are found in the 1928 Norwester yearbook, when sports teams were named as the “Golden Bears.” The 1929 yearbook featured a golden bear on its cover.

The original school colors—orange & black—were replaced with today’s “Gold & Black” in 1941, to align with the Golden Bear mascot.

The high school houses a 500-lb., nine-foot tall stuffed Alaskan brown bear. It was donated in 1956 by Jimmy Crum, a UA resident and well-known sportscaster who had hunted the bear.

The Label of a Legend

To golf fans, Jack Nicklaus is THE Golden Bear. He was a 1957 graduate of UAHS—the first graduating class from the high school building at 1650 Ridgeview Road.

How did Jack become known as “The Golden Bear?”

Shortly after turning professional in 1961, Jack was asked to create a logo for an apparel line that captured the competitive spirit of this up-and-coming talent.

The search brought up an incident that had recently played out during an exhibition in Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne Age sportswriter, Don Lawrence, was watching Nicklaus play when he was asked what he thought of the young star. Lawrence stated that Nicklaus looked like a “cuddly, golden bear.”

It was Jack’s wife, Barbara, who remembered the reference and made the suggestion to Jack for his logo. He agreed. After all, he was a Golden Bear long before earning the serendipitous nickname. Soon was born one of sport’s most endearing, enduring and iconic nicknames.

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