by Perspectives Staff // Spring 2013

In the early years of the University of Kansas City, the school lacked a mascot. There are several myths of how the Kangaroo came to eventually serve that role, but by the late 1930s the Roo had become the symbol of the school. A yearbook from the period refers to the Kangaroo Hop, the Kangaroo Beauty Queen, the Kangaroo softball team and the “Kangaroost” at the student union. The new mascot had taken hold.

Many of the Roo artists through the years remain unknown today. However, in 1938 one of Kansas City’s most famous illustrators, Walt Disney, contributed his own rendering of the animal. Editors of the yearbook for that year contacted Disney about contributing his own version of a Roo, and he responded with the drawing depicted here, even going so far as to include his most famous character, Mickey Mouse. The editors were thrilled with the drawing and took this opportunity to dub the mascot “Casey.”

Over the next few decades, Casey took on a number of different iterations and gained a female counterpart named “Joey.” The spelling of the mascot’s name also changed at some point to Kasey, though the reason for the change is undocumented. At one point in the 1960s, there was even a serious effort to bring two live kangaroos from Australia to live on the Volker campus. Backers promised to keep them on campus only during warm weather—the animals require a temperature above 70 degrees—but wiser heads ultimately prevailed and the effort was abandoned.

By the mid-1980s UMKC was preparing to move into Division I athletics. Even though Kasey had been utilized for a number of different purposes across the school, in conjunction with this change in the alignment of the sports teams there was a push to redesign the mascot to reflect a more aggressive and athletic demeanor. As the sports teams became more entrenched and assumed a larger role on campus, Kasey became more strongly identified with these activities and appeared less frequently in association with other aspects of the school.

As UMKC marks it’s 80th anniversary, the UMKC Alumni Association refreshed and re-introduced the classic Kasey Roo. While the exact origins of this enduring symbol may be lost to history, it will continue to resonate with UMKC supporters for years to come. Go Roos!

Curator’s term ends
Global Roos