The Goat's Head Committee :: Worcester Polytechnic Institute :: 100 Institute Road :: Worcester, MA 01609

 

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History of the Goat's Head Trophy

Picture it now. A small statuette of a goat, with an oversized head. It is cast entirely in bronze. A quiet little thing, certainly not an object of artistic value (one would think). And yet, each class at this Institute would do anything (well, almost anything) to possess this trophy and obtain the bragging rights that their's was the class to possess it. But the trick was to display it to the entire Institute, and not have it subsequently stolen from them.


That is the way it used to be, when the Goat's Head tradition was in full swing and everyone participated. It all went back to the school mascot, a goat who was maintained and kept by a Japanese student named Gompei Kuwada (guess where Gompei's got their name, folks) starting in 1891. Why was he named the goat keeper? Because noone else had the intitials, G.K.! The goat was a gift of the class of 1893, but the animal soon became too difficult to maintain. So what logical thing did they do? They beheaded and mounted the thing!


Beginning with the class of 1928, it was decided that the Goat's Head would become an object of class rivalry to inspire school spirit. The original Goat's Head was actually stolen by the class of 1894 and hidden in Nova Scotia. It was not seen again until 1913, when the crane in the Electrical Engineering Laboratory carried it to the class of 1893 at an alumni dinner. The head was in very poor shape, so it's caricature was cast in bronze and mounted on a disproportionately small body.


Originally, the Goat's Head Competition was focused on the two youngest classes and involved a point system based on various events such as sports, the Tech Carnival, Paddle Rush, and the Rope Pull. The Head was presented to the class that accumulated the largest number of points, who were obligated to "show" the Goat's Head at least once a year in order to give the other class a chance to steal it themselves. Some memorable "showings" included hanging it from a helicopter during a home football game, dropping it from Earle Bridge into a moving convertible, and hanging it in Alumni Gym dring a basketball game where it was swung out a window to those waiting outside.


The Goat's Head Competition that began in the 1920s was halted in the 1930s. It came back in the 1950s to some extent and continued for several more years. Formerly a source of class bonding, this competition was abandoned due to the somewhat violent nature of the chases. The tradition has recently been revived, along with a brand new set of rules to help keep it fun and safe. In fact, the class of 1996 stole the Goat as the moment it came on campus (there is, of course, an excellent story associated with this event).

 

Class of 1996 Got Their Goat

by Jesse Parent, class of 1996


It was early Monday morning when six members of the senior class got together with the intention of stealing the Goat's Head trophy. The news was out. The original Goat's Head had been recast, and while the old one was to be retired and kept for it's historical value, the newly cast version was planned to be recirculated into the WPI community in the hopes of reviving the Goat's Head tradition in a safe and fun manner. That was our plan, too... but the difference was that it would be from us, students, and not the administration.


The man (we'll call him Gompei) who was bringing the pair of goats was due for a meeting in Higgins House at approximately 9AM, and that's where we waited for him. One member of our class was waiting in the parking lot, another in a bush by the door, while the rest waited in the getaway car. It was the perfect plan... we hoped.


At 8:55AM, Gompei arrived in his car with the brazen pair. Our man in the parking lot saw him and rushed to his car, knowing that the two would be in his back seat, and attempted to open the passenger side rear door. It was locked. Gompei just looked inquisitively at our classmate, who sighed and left. The classmate in the bushes had gotten paranoid and went inside to make sure Gompei hadn't somehow snuck in, and then waited at the front door for him.


Two of the seniors who were waiting in the getaway car saw Gompei pull in and went up to watch the stealing, but the original two were nowhere to be found. So, when Gompei crossed the parking lot, a goat under each arm, the new pair seized the opportunity... and the goats. With one member of our class on each goat, Gompei had no chance to hold on as they grabbed them and ran to the car, leaving Gompei unharmed but clearly flustered.


The goats were quickly hidden away after the kid-napping (kid, goat... get it?!?). In the spirit of competition and fairness, we agreed to return the old one so that it could be safely stored away, but the new one was to be introduced at Homecoming by our class (look for that, boys and girls). So the old goat was returned, but not necessarily as it was. It had gained an addition of a "9" and a "6", etched triumpantly on each butt cheek.