5 Lesser Known Arizona Sports Mascots That Deserve Your Cheers

(Shutterstock Photo/Keeton Gale)

By Robert Gundran

May 24, 2023

Sparky, Baxter, The Gorilla—all iconic mascots for their respective teams, Arizona State University, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Phoenix Suns. 

The state is home to some well-known mascots, but Arizona is also filled with hidden gems—lesser-known mascots that add charm and character to their respective teams. 

Let’s check out five lesser-known mascots in Arizona that deserve recognition for being iconic in their own ways. 

Scorch – Phoenix Mercury (WNBA)

PHOENIX – JUNE 13: Phoenix Mercury mascat and Arizona Diamondbacks mascot perform during the Major League Baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Chase Field on June 13, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Cardinals 7-5. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

What exactly is Scorch? The Mercury’s mascot looks like the amalgamation of a dog, a kangaroo, and a bat. One thing is for sure, Scorch stands out with his purple fur and one long orange stripe of hair. 

Scorch mirrors the Phoenix Suns’ own gorilla as one of the very best mascots in its league. 

With Brittney Griner’s return and Diana Taurasi nearing the end of her career, there has never been a better time to go to a Mercury game live at the Footprint Center. 

Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of Scorch, too. 

Artie the Artichoke – Scottsdale Community College

He is a giant anthropomorphic artichoke, what’s not to love?

Artie the Artichoke came into being in the 1970s when Scottsdale Community College’s student body was upset that the school was spending money on sports that they believed should’ve been allocated to academics. 

The school held a vote on a new mascot and Artie won. It was a protest by the student body and an attempt to prank the school with a ridiculous mascot. 

“Originally intended to be a source of embarrassment, Artie has been embraced by students, athletes, staff, and the community as a beloved character,” the school stated on its page about Artie. 

Students can apply to perform in the artichoke suit for a semester and get paid a $200 stipend for their work. 

Thunder the Antelope – Grand Canyon University 

Everyone knows Sparky at ASU and Wilbur the Wildcat at the University of Arizona, but the other universities in the state have some pretty neat mascots as well. 

Head down Camelback Road until you hit Grand Canyon University, and at any one of their sporting events you might just see Thunder the antelope.

In 1949, when GCU first opened in Prescott, the student body chose the antelope as its official mascot. However, Thunder didn’t arrive until 1981, replacing the former mascot, a furry purple blob that was called the “Purple People Eater.”

Thunder wears the number 49 for the year the university was founded. 

GCU’s men’s basketball team has made the NCAA men’s basketball tournament two times this decade, so national audiences might start to become more acquainted with this underrated mascot. 

Louie the Lumberjack – Northern Arizona University 

Travel north from the Valley and visit Northern Arizona University, arguably the state’s most scenic public school, beset on all sides by giant trees with a view of Humphrey’s Peak on campus. 

NAU’s football arena is called “The Skydome,” and in front of it you’ll find a 25-foot tall statue of the school’s mascot, Louie the Lumberjack. There’s another 25-foot Louie inside the arena as well. 

The school said Louie was made by a company called California’s Prewitt Fiberglass in the early 60s. It was sold to a local business, which eventually donated the statues to NAU. 

There’s also a relatively regular-sized version of the mascot—Louie wears a blue beanie and gold shirt, and he carries around a fake ax. 

Stryker D. Rattler – Arizona Rattlers (Indoor Football League)

How many of you knew we had a second football team that plays indoors at Footprint Center? 

The Arizona Rattlers have won six championships combined between stints in the Arena Football League and Indoor Football League. 

Their mascot is a walking rattlesnake called Stryker D. Rattler. 

You can find him wandering around the stands during games, and on his Twitter account. 


  • Robert Gundran

    Robert Gundran grew up in the Southwest, spending equal time in the Valley and Southern California throughout his life. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in 2018 and wrote for The Arizona Republic and The Orange County Register.

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