Corky still fierce, despite phantom stinger
“We decided that he couldn’t dance with his girl, or catch a football with all those appendages. So we amputated some of his legs.”
As Emporia State prepares to celebrate 150 years of “changing lives,” students and faculty begin to acknowledge the many who have come before them and strive still to make the university the best it can be. There is one figure who cannot be overlooked – Corky the Hornet.
But Corky is a strange sort of hornet – he doesn’t actually have a stinger. And he hasn’t had one for many years, according to school records. Tyler Curtis, executive director of Alumni Relations, knows the story well.
Curtis said before anyone attending ESU (then the Kansas State Teacher’s College) was a hornet, they were first yellow jackets. The idea of the hornet only came about because the “yellow jacket” name was too long for use in the school newspaper, and thus, it was shortened to “hornet.”
With this new name came a contest to create a mascot, and in 1933, Paul Edwards, a student at the time, submitted his design for the first Corky, complete with insect arms and a stinger. Edwards didn’t win but patented his design and showed it to the manager of the student union. He approved, and the rest is history.
It was 1936 when Corky lost his stinger.
“We decided that he couldn’t dance with his girl,” Edwards said, “or catch a football with all those appendages. So we amputated some of his legs (and his stinger).”
The result was the more humanoid Corky known today, determined but still without a stinger.
“It’s become more of a bee-looking hornet,” Curtis said. “More like a character.”
And yet, despite Corky’s lack of stinger, students recently adopted the “stingers up” sign, often spotted at sporting events as a means of support, unity and school spirit.
Brooke Schmidt, president of Associated Student Government and senior Spanish major, witnessed the inception of the visual slogan.
At last year’s Day Under the Dome, an annual event when students visit the state capitol to lobby for issues regarding higher education, students were asked by President Michael Shonrock what their symbol was. “Stingers up,” Schmidt said, was actually made up on the spot.
“As the year went on, more and more people started catching on to it and ASG made it something official for Emporia State,” Schmidt said.
Despite the fact that Corky doesn’t have a stinger at all, Schmidt said she loves the “stingers up” symbol.
“A lot of universities have their sign, and I don’t think we’ve had one before,” Schmidt said. “‘Stingers up’ is something that students, faculty, everyone on campus can do with one another.”
But without a stinger, is Corky really a hornet at all?
Danielle Schmale, senior information resource studies major, said “yes.”
“Corky’s (missing) stinger just makes him more personalized, more humanized,” Schmale said. “I think he’s still a hornet.”
Edwards, who still draws Corky to this day, agrees.
“His stinger is in his attitude,” Edwards said.
Corky may not have been with the school since inception, but it’s clear he and the sharp, powerful attitude he inspires are here to stay.