The bird, the myth, the legend: Sammy the Eagle celebrates 46th hatching day

Sammy is back on campus after an extended leave of absence and is greeting students Emily Meth, an education major, and Brock Teel, a civil engineering major. PHOTO BY BRETT HALL

Many sports teams have mascots. The University of Iowa has Herky the Hawk, the St. Louis Cardinals have Fred Bird and Kirkwood Community College has Sammy the Eagle. Sammy will celebrate his 46th birthday on Sunday, Nov. 6. On Monday, Nov. 7, there will be a birthday celebration in Iowa Hall to help celebrate Sammy’s birthday at 10:30 a.m. All students are invited, and there will be cake for the first 150 in attendance.    

 Kirkwood was founded in 1966, and originally known as Area 10 Community College, it was not until 1969 that Kirkwood officially adopted its current name.   

Seth VanderTuig, director of Student Life & the Student Center, said students at that time voted on school colors and decided Kirkwood would be the home of the Eagles.   

Students also decided Sammy would be named after Samuel J. Kirkwood, former Governor of Iowa.  According to VanderTuig, Sammy was hatched in Iowa Hall on Nov. 6, 1974, when the first version of Sammy attended a student event.   

 Since Sammy’s hatching, Sammy has loved going to many campus activities to cheer for students and is rarely absent from student events. However, students may have noticed the mascot has been absent from campus since the outbreak of Covid-19.   

VanderTuig said in the spring of 2020, Sammy flew south to self-isolate in hopes of escaping the pandemic and is now hopeful to return to select student and athletic events this year.   

While Sammy himself is not very vocal, his close friend VanderTuig said, “Some of Sammy’s favorite meals are bears, tritons and redtails.”   

From students creating a persona for Sammy in 1983 to today’s learners donning Sammy’s feathers, students have been an important part of bringing Sammy to events throughout Sammy’s life. If current students are interested in becoming Sammy they should contact Student Life. 

Image courtesy of Brett Hall | Kirkwood Communiqué

Categories: Feature