Agriculture student shows Purdue pride
By Kristen Oliver
Photo by Kristen Oliver
Last fall, Purdue Pete (Andy Fordice) tried to get fans to "Boiler Up" for the Purdue football team during their 43-10 victory over Illinois.
While most Purdue University students are out tailgating before football games, Andy Fordice is suiting up to be one of the biggest attractions on the field.
Fordice, a sophomore from Russellville, Ind., with a major in agricultural communication, is one of the four students picked out of a field of 26 contenders to play the roles of Purdue Pete and Rowdy. "I've come to Purdue games since I was three," Fordice said. "I always wanted to be at Purdue and bleed black and gold, so I figured what better way to show school spirit than becoming the mascot."
Another thing that sparked his interest in trying out for the mascot was that there has been a longstanding tradition of brothers in his fraternity, Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR), playing the role of Purdue Pete.
According to Fordice, AGR, which is an agriculture fraternity, has had around 15-20 brothers play the role of Pete over the years. "When tryouts come around next fall, we'll have two open spots, and I'll try to push the tryouts within the house so that we can possibly have two brothers on there next year," Fordice said.
Purdue Pete originated in 1940, when University Book Store hired an artist to create Pete as an advertising logo. Then, in 1956, Pete finally became animated and made his first run onto the field at a pep rally before the Purdue vs. Missouri football game. From sporting events to community activities, Pete now makes approximately 275 appearances a year.
Since Fordice has been playing Purdue Pete, he said that he has seen sporting events, such as football, from a very different perspective. Fordice said that when he is down on the field, the energy from the crowd is something that both teams cannot ignore. He feels that a lot of this excitement from the crowd is a reaction to the spirit that Purdue Pete conveys. Fordice pointed out that the fans are definitely the 12th man during football games. He said that noise from the crowd can become deafening when Pete is on the field getting them hyped up and when the team makes a big play.
From his experience as Pete, Fordice has seen that Purdue sports have something that other colleges cannot match: an amazing fan base. "The fans have loyalty to the team no matter what year it is," Fordice said. "Some years it's either feast or famine, but they are always going to come back."