By Betsy Holmquist
UM’s football team officially became the Grizzlies in 1923 and a live bear cub served as its mascot for years. From 1906 to the early 1960s bears often appeared at football games (above), in Homecoming parades, and in the parades at Butte before the Griz-Cat football games. Noteworthy were the three Fessy bears of the late 1930s and early 1940s, named for famed UM football coach Doug Fessenden. They wore their own jerseys, emblazoned with “Fessy” and a large “M.”
The bear facts
In 1906 a black bear cub named Teddy became UM’s mascot. The University’s football team was known as the Bears, so Teddy was an apt representation. Teddy lived in a stone den on the Greenough property. We don’t have photos of him, but drawings appear in early Sentinels.
By the 1980s a full-body, costumed Otto appeared. Named for corporate sponsor Grizzly Auto, he performed with UM’s cheerleaders at football and basketball games. Otto donned various outfits for his acts and for a few seasons evolved into a wolfish bear. The huge head made seeing difficult and the bulky costume limited movement.
Scott Stiegler ’98 took on mascot duties in 1993 as Monte, the mascot’s updated name—short for Montana. He spent five years developing Monte into one fun-loving character.
Barry Anderson ‘05, Capital One Mascot for 2003 and 2005, and UM’s beloved Monte from 2001 to 2005, appears here as Benny the Bull of the Chicago Bulls, his current alter identity, with the 2005 Monte. UM’s mascot continues to evolve with each season, with each portrayer delighting fans as did that first Teddy 100 years ago.
this article in Montanan