The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

After ten years, Red Storm athletics to get a mascot

Get ready for a big addition to the Red Storm roster.

After a near 10-year hiatus, St. John’s sports teams will once again have a mascot. Starting Thursday and lasting until May 4, students, alumni, fans and faculty will have the opportunity to vote for a costumed presence on the sidelines of Red Storm athletic contests.

Those who choose to take part in the online vote – which will be accessible through a link on St. John’s Central – will be able to pick their favorite mascot from a pool of six concept sketches, according to Christina Zaccarelli, Student Government, Inc.’s chairperson for school spirit.

Though the list will be officially announced on the University’s athletic Web site, redstormsports.com, Zaccarelli said that the six potential mascot concepts are a dog, bear, superhero, thunderbird, thunderbolt and thunderhorse.

“I’m really excited that we’re finally voting on it,” Zaccarelli said. “I think it will add a new dimension to games and to the [University] community in general. I think the students will be excited to vote on the mascot and that will add to school spirit.”

The process of selecting the six finalists began in the Fall of 2008 and was spearheaded by a panel of student-athletes, University administrators and students that gathered to brainstorm and nominate potential mascots.

The original hope, according to Zaccarelli, who was a member of the panel, was to be able to unveil the mascot before the current academic semester. But now the University plans to have the mascot finalized in time for use in summer marketing campaigns, she said.

The last time the Red Storm had a mascot was early in 2000 before the University abandoned the duo of red horse mascots known as Thunder and Lightning, but the history of St. John’s monikers and mascots is long and storied.

St. John’s teams were known exclusively as the Johnnies until the 1920s when a reporter used the term “Redmen” to describe the University football team, which was uniformed completely in red. According to legend, the Chief Blackjack mascot later made his first public appearance at a football game at Ebbets Field after two students, Walter Bruce, ’39, and Michael McNichols, ’31, took the mascot from the front of a cigar store.

The Redmen nickname survived until 1994 when the decision to abandon the nickname was made in an attempt to be more sensitive to Native American culture. Although the original institution of the Redmen nickname had nothing to do with Native American culture, it did evolve into the use of Native American symbolism. It was then that the University made the change to its current nickname, the Red Storm.

The sketches were all created by Olympus Inc., a company that designed and manufactured some highly-visible mascots, including Ronald McDonald, The Geico Gecko, Tony the Tiger and The University of Wisconsin Badger.

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