Oakland University
201 Meadow Brook Rd.
Rochester, MI 48309-4401
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(248) 370-2100

oakland-s-pioneer-pete

Oakland's Pioneer Pete

OU alum Charles "Chick" Conklin, SBA '79, served as the original Pioneer Pete, Oakland's first mascot before the university's athletic teams changed in 1999 from the NCAA Division II Pioneers to the Division I Golden Grizzlies.

Conklin's first hurrah was as a cheerleader for University of Detroit High School. In 1977, he transferred his love of college basketball and cheerleading from the University of Notre Dame to Oakland.

After OU's cheerleading coach suggested Conklin put his zeal to work as the university's first mascot, he came to the next game sporting a pioneer costume, consisting of a fringed leather jacket, moccasins, a coonskin cap and a toy rifle.

For the next two years, Conklin led the men's and women's basketball teams onto the court for every home game. He also gave the cheerleaders a hand.

"I enjoyed getting the crowd going," Conklin said. "I had great camaraderie with the players and really felt involved in school spirit."

After graduation, Conklin kept his connection with the teams by announcing at basketball games through 1982. Today, he attends basketball games regularly, keeps in touch with the men's basketball coach and says he likes Oakland's new mascot, "the Grizz," and the new arena in the Recreation and Athletics Center.