Music professor A. Neil Annas wrote the classics which served for Northern Illinois University's first half century-"Castle on the Hill," "Alma Mater," and "Loyalty Song"-according to NIU archivist Glen A. Gildemeister.
The current "Huskie Fight Song" dates back to the 1961-62 academic year and an editorial appeal from The Northern Star asking for a snappier tune for students, fans, and alums at athletics events.
Former Northern Illinois men's swimming coach and physical education professor Francis Stroup answered the call with new lyrics and a modest rewrite of the chorus of Annas' "Loyalty Song."
While The Northern Star first published Stroup's lyrics to the "Huskie Fight Song" on November 17, 1961, and it was sung at pep rallies and basketball games, it was not formally approved by the Student Senate until April 30, 1963. Stroup was inducted into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.
The updated version of the "Alma Mater" - written by former NIU band director Wilbur Smith and English professor Orville Baker-originated in 1957 and made its debut at a campus Pops Concert in January, 1961. Smith authored the music and most of the lyrics-with some help by Baker.
HUSKIE FIGHT SONG
Huskies, you're Northern Huskies
Forward, together forward
Come on you Huskies, Fight on you
Lyrics by Francis Stroup
HAIL N.I.U - ALMA MATER
Lyrics by Wilbur Smith / Orville Baker
Yes, it is true. Originally, the Northern Illinois State Normal School and a committee headed by Emma F. Stratford adopted yellow and white as the school's official colors in 1899. According to the Northern Illinois-Volume 1, Number 1-the official school song was named "The Yellow and White."
Wonder where the yellow went? Seven years later, NISNS desired some brighter hues and ones that would not be obscured on the football uniforms by mud or grass stains. By December 1906, the Athletic Association discussed "the plan of having an athletic monogram, and have finally decided on one they think will be appropriate. It is to be a cardinal monogram, N.I. on a black diamond, and it is to be for team members only."
So NISNS established a second set of colors. "A round black background on which is a Wisconsin-red N.I... The red and black are very showy and much more suitable for athletic colors than yellow and white," the then-monthly (February, 1907) Northern Illinois wrote. "The school colors are very pretty to decorate with, but they did not show up very well at games. Many colleges have athletic colors aside from the school colors, and it seemed to the Athletic Association that it would be very suitable for us to adopt the same plan."
Note to graphic artists and printers: The NIU cardinal red is Pantone Matching System 1935.
|1890s - 1968|
Northern Illinois University's athletics mascot wasn't always a Huskie dog.
In almost a century of intercollegiate competition, old "Nl" has been identified with several nicknames.
Profs was a monicker used in the early days, an obvious expression of the institution's mission as a teacher's college. Cardinals stuck in the 1920s, probably due to the school's jersey colors.
The Evansmen tag became a cognomen in the 1930s, a reverent recognition of athletics pioneer George G. "Chick" Evans. Other more provincial terms included Northerners and Teachers.
In 1940, a four-man committee of Evans, Harold Taxman, Walter Lorimer, and Harry Telman, all members of the Varsity Club, was appointed to search for "... a term with a trifle more dash..."
After much debate, a final accord was reached as reported in a three-paragraph story on page three of the January 25,1940 Northern Illinois, the student newspaper and forerunner of The Northern Star.
"Not only does the term have color and meaning, but it is particularly apt as in regard to NI's varsity teams," the unsigned article noted.
"From now on the word 'Huskies' will be used constantly in this paper and in other papers to indicate our athletics squads."
2001 - Present
Since being elevated to National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I status in the late 1960s, the Northern Illinois mascot has had several incarnations-a series of real dogs, a "live" Victor E. Huskie in costume, and several line drawing logo versions. Probably the most popular logo among the Baby Boomers set would be the "fighting" Huskie in the boxer's stance commissioned by former athletics director Bob Brigham in 1968. In 1985-86, the dog's head-known to insiders as the "wolf" Huskie-made its debut under the direction of (then) NIU marketing director Chuck Shriver. The recently "decommissioned" running Huskie dog (lower left) was designed by John Vieceli of McMillan Associates in Dundee which worked with former athletics director Gerald O'Dell on the project in 1988.
Further note to Noah Webster and copy readers: Evans made reference in that 1940 story to a Huskie dog, not H-U-S-K-Y. So the singular collective form is indeed H-U-S-K-I-E, as in Huskie victory, Huskie touchdown, Huskie basket, Huskie spike, and Huskie All-America.