News and Events
Pepperdine Welcomes Back an Old Friend
After an absence of ten years, the beloved Pepperdine University mascot, Willie the Wave, returned to Firestone Fieldhouse on Friday, Oct. 13. A standing-room-only crowd of students, faculty, staff, and alumni cheered as representatives of Pepperdine's National Championship teams—a "Court of Champions" spanning seven decades—welcomed Willie back to campus.
Willie showed his enthusiasm by high-fiving the famed champions along with President Andy Benton and Director of Athletics Dr. John Watson. Willie led a chorus of cheering Waves fans as the new men and women's basketball teams were introduced, marking the official opening of the fall athletic season.
As the exciting evening concluded, we caught up with a jubilant Willie and asked him a few questions about his much-anticipated return.
Willie, where have you been and what have you been doing?
I've basically been on a horizon-broadening experience. Part spiritual journey, part relaxin' and kicking-back. You know, "finding myself." I caught up with some friends—big waves in Tahiti, Africa, and Australia. We had a blast tossing surfers; we even saved a beached whale! I also toured a bunch of historic lighthouses, took some cooking classes, and donated some time doing sea life research—a mixed bag of things.
What's it like to be back at Pepperdine?
Yeah, being gone for ten years makes you miss a place. Honestly, I was worried about what I'd find on my return. When I left in 1996, students were watching Melrose Place and listening to Hootie and the Blowfish! But now that I'm back, I realize that nothing's changed. Sure, the palm trees are ten years taller, but the students, the pride, and the energy on campus are right-on. Being away reminded me that my favorite place in the world is right here.
Any predictions for the upcoming season?
First off, men's basketball will be more exciting than it's ever been—look for some triple digit games. And the women's team is going to be really strong. There's a good vibe on campus and I'm going to be supporting the Waves across the board—volleyball, soccer, water polo, baseball, tennis, everything. I'd love for the students here to join me. That's a tradition I hope hasn't changed.
Willie, you look a little different than when last we saw you.
Thanks, I've been working out some—focusing on my lats, delts, and quads. It's boring, but it's a part of my life. I also bought myself some new clothes. You should have seen the shorts and t-shirt I left with in 1996. I'm embarrassed to even look at those old photos.
Is there anything you'd like to say to your friends at Pepperdine?
Just one phrase that I haven't said in a long, long time: "Go Waves!"