Sammy The Eagle


The Story of "Sammy the Eagle", Official Mascot of Kirkwood Athletics: A Creative Student Brings Kirkwood Life

Published February 2, 1983 in the Cedar Rapids Gazette by Nancy Stevens

Kirkwood Community College pep club members decided last fall the school needed an adult-sized eagle mascot costume to add pizazz to the cheering section. But a $700 price tag for a professionally made costume sidetracked the plans until three weeks ago, when a creative student volunteered to do the job for $450.

Wednesday, "Sammy" the eagle — named after Iowa's Civil War governor, Samuel Kirkwood, who the college is named after — paraded around the noon homecoming pep rally, 6 feet tall with wings flapping, but minus tail feathers. Inside, Laurie Sorum, 21, of 3100 Pebble Drive SW sweated and fretted because she hadn't been able to get the eagle's tail feathers sewn on. (Pictured: The first "Sammy the Eagle" created by student, Laurie Sorum.)

"I thought I could do it," she said. "I didn't know then they wanted it in three weeks." Laurie had three years of art studies at North Dakota State before she and husband, Nathan, moved to Cedar Rapids last year. Now enrolled in the handicapped services program at Kirkwood, she knew nothing about the pep club's plight until her pottery instructor, Ray Mullen, asked her three weeks ago if she could sew.

Her answer was yes, and she agreed to take on the project. Although a pattern was modified for the bird body, it was Laurie's ingenuity that formed the gigantic head, beak and claws. "When it got to the head, I just cut, sewed and glued and hoped it would come out right," she said. By Wednesday, she hadn't slept for two days, staying up all night Monday and Tuesday to get the costume done.

Nor would she get a chance for sleep until late last night. After all, a school mascot's most important job was to be done first - cheering on both the women's and men's basketball teams at the homecoming games last night. "It kind of goes with the costume," she said. "I was never a cheerleader or anything like that before, and this is kind of fun."