“There’s a new Coug in town!” said a bystander watching the painstaking installation of an 11-foot tall cougar statue at Martin Stadium Thursday morning. Placed just in time for the Apple Cup, the granite and bronze monument is destined to become one of WSU’s most notable landmarks.
The sculpture, Cougar Pride, was commissioned and donated to WSU by Gary Schneidmiller (WSU class of 1971) and created by Spokane artists, Mike and Chester Fields. A formal dedication ceremony will be held 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 22 at the Martin Stadium Plaza.
Gary Schneidmiller (WSU class of ’71) commissioned the Cougar Pride bronze for WSU.
Preparations for the placement of the bronze began a week ago with the laying of granite slabs that cover the concrete pedestal. Employees from Great Floors – Granite and Stone, of Post Falls, spent several days lifting, fitting and trimming the tan-brown granite which lines the pedestal. Special crimson granite was used to form Cougar logos near the commemorative plaque.
Bill McLeskey, lead installer for Great Floors, said each of the granite side panels weighs 450 pounds and the top piece – installed in two halves – weighs 2000 pounds. In total, he estimates the monument to weigh about seven tons – including four tons of granite and the nearly three ton bronze sculpture.
A year in the making, the sculpture was designed in Spokane, sculpted in clay in Portland and then cast in bronze at a foundry in Joseph, Oregon. Yesterday, the finished statue was driven up the steep and winding Rattlesnake Grade into Washington where it spent the night in Pullman.
Chester and Mike Fields – the Spokane artists who created Cougar Pride.
Today, as the morning light shone on the magnificent cougar outside Martin Stadium, people commented on its lifelike eyes. “We polished the eyes to make them more reflective – kind of like a real cat,” said sculptor Mike Fields.
“They did an amazing job,” Schneidmiller said of the Fields. “They created a masterful piece that represented the entire University.”
Schneidmiller commissioned Cougar Pride not only to preserve the tradition of Butch, the once live cougar mascot, but also to honor his father, Manuel, a 1941 WSU graduate and his mother, Gladys, who still attends all of the WSU football games. Schneidmiller resides in Post Falls, Idaho.