On December 14th, 1959, during a basketball game the first ever Sammy the BearKat mascot costume was unveiled. In the years since then Sammy has undergone many changes to his appearance to morph into the Sammy the BearKat we know today.

This article from The Houstonian, 10/7/2003, gives a good overview of the various Sammy’s over the years.

To find out more about Sammy the BearKat come and visit the University Archives in room 400 of the Newton Gresham Library.

Football Fun Fridays! the lighter side of 100 years of Bearkat football

Chris @ SHSU Homecoming

Houstonian 11 14 1967 editted

Homecoming Week! Since the mid-1940s Homecoming as we known it today has been a big deal on the Sam Houston State University campus. With all the festivities, electing the Queen and King, and most importantly THE BIG GAME there will be fun for all. This year we take on Nicholls State and have a record of 6-0 against the Colonels.

This week University Archives would like to introduce you to the cutest BearKat Homecoming fan. His name is Chris Gilstrap. Chris was destined to be a BearKat from an early age. His father Michael was a student (alum 1968 and life member of the SHSU Alumni Association) and his mother, Barbara, worked for Dr. George Killinger, who was involved in starting the Criminal Justice program at the same period of time this photograph was taken at the 1967 Homecoming game between Sam Houston State College and Texas A & I. Sad to say we lost that game 48 to 6, but gained this adorable photograph to feature in this post 48 years later.

The game was played at Bedrock Bowl or Old Bedrock, also known as Pritchett Field. Little Chris was getting bored so his father decided to take him out of the stands and entertain him on the sidelines. Chris’s picture was shot by a Houstonian photographer and he appeared in the November 14, 1967 issue of The Houstonian.

Just a quick 22 years later in 1989, Timothy “Chris” Gilstrap, now a BearKat of the 1980s, graduates from Sam Houston State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, Mass Communication/Media Studies continuing the Gilstrap Family BearKat tradition. Chris was also a member of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity.

Many thanks to Michael Gilstrap for letting the University Archives use this picture.

To learn or see more materials on Homecoming activities come visit the University Archives in the NGL, room 400.

Looking back at SHSU in the 1970s through the Houstonian


Pre-1981 issues of the Houstonian are stored as physical copies in the archives

This week in the archives I’ve been sifting through old issues of the Houstonian from the 1970s, looking through sports articles for more information on the teams and games depicted in the photo slides I’ve been organizing. While going through all the old issues of the Houstonian I’ve come upon a couple interesting (and vaguely sports related) articles I wanted to share here.

“Sammy Bearkat” perches on the shoulder of his student trainer.

The first article concerns a certain SHSU mascot. An issue of the Houstonian from October 1975 contained the headline, “Bearkat Needs Trainers Before Spring Semester.” The article includes a photograph of “Sammy Bearkat,” who was actually not a Bearkat at all, but a small mammal from South America called a “kinkajou.”

The article was more of a plea for new caretakers for the kinkajou, as his current caretakers were graduating. It outlined his behavior, the types of food he ate, and the requirements for any potential trainers. Apparently Sammy the kinkajou was the official mascot at SHSU from 1970-1975, although I didn’t find any more information about him after that year.

Female athletes are welcomed into the Bearkat Den (athletic dorms) in 1979

The second article, from September 1979, was a reminder that the 1970s were a significant decade for collegiate athletics due to changes such as Title IX, which requires high schools and colleges to provide equal opportunities and resources for female athletes. The article, headlined “Women are in the Bearkat Den,” announced that for the first time in SHSU’s history women were allowed to live in the official dorm for student athletes. In the article, the women’s softball coach emphasizes that although the dorms are co-ed, no men were allowed inside the women’s rooms. Accompanying the article is a picture of female athletes hanging on the balcony rails of the Bearkat Den.