At the turn of the century, K-Staters were commonly referred to as "Aggies," which became their favorite label. The nickname "Wildcats" was given to the football team in 1915 by the head coach Chief Bender because of the squad's "fighting spirit." The nickname was changed to "Farmers" in 1916, but head coach Charles Bachman switched back to the Wildcat nickname in 1920.
The school color, Royal Purple, was adopted in the fall of 1896 by a committee of Miss Minnie L. Copeland Jr., Miss Winnifred Houghton and Miss Ina E. Holyrod, of the senior class, and perhaps others. Although K-State's only official color is purple, white has been used as a complementary color for many years. Silver is also a common second or third color. The term "Purple Pride," which is often used in association with K-State athletics, was given rise during the tenure of football coach Vince Gibson.
Willie the Wildcat, a student bedecked in a large, life-like Wildcat head, is Kansas State's number one fan. Willie Wildcats are selected yearly. The mascot is a central part of athletic events, but Willie also attends functions as an ambassador around the state. Traditionally, the identity of the student portraying Willie is kept a secret.
A Wildcat mascot, Touchdown XI, a grayish bobcat donated by the Clifford Roy family of Smith Center, resides at Manhattan's Sunset Zoo. The tradition of "Touchdown" began in 1922 when head football coach Charles Bachman helped introduce the first such mascot to the campus. Once a regular at Wildcat contests, "Touchdown" mascots no longer attend the games.
The alma mater song was selected as a result of an 1888 campus contest. H.W. Jones ('88) was responsible for K-State's winning song. Jones' original work was four stanzas including the chorus. His version has been slightly altered over the years to include only two stanzas and the changing of the words from KSAC to KSU.
"I know a spot that I love full well
'Tis not in forest nor yet in dell,
Ever it holds me with magic spell,
I think of thee, Alma Mater.
KSU, we'll carry thy banner high,
KSU, long, long may thy colors fly.
Loyal to thee, thy children shall swell the cry.
Hail, Hail, Hail, Alma Mater."
Another popular song at K-State athletic events is the Wabash Cannonball and the K-State fight song, while a favorite song/cheer is the "Eat 'Em Up" chant.
"Fight, you K-State Wildcats.
For Alma Mater
Glory into combat
For the purple and the white.
Faithful to our colors,
We shall ever be,
Fighting ever fighting for a Wildcat Victory!"