From the Sideline: Mascot Musings

Ridley Eastland-Fruit, Sports Reporter

Those among us who had harbored passionate visions of a fierce-looking Walla Walla Wallaby as the official representative of Whitman College had their hopes shattered last week as the Mascot Working Group revealed the final four mascot candidates. With marsupials out of the picture (perhaps justifiably), the Whitman community has until Oct. 30 to choose between the Appaloosas, Blue Ravens, Blues and Sockeyes.

The issue is of particular weight for the athletic community, who will come to be most closely tied to the new mascot. While in recent years Whitman had largely avoided mention of the missionary mascot (hence changing it), many hope that the new representative will be one that can be vocally rallied behind.

As at other schools, athletic events will be the primary setting for this. An athlete on the court, field, course or blocks would be a Sockeye. Their teams would be announced as the Whitman Blue Ravens, and they are the ones who would have to endure taunts of “Appaloser.” As major stakeholders in the decision, what do varsity athletes have to say about the mascot options?

“I am thoroughly disappointed,” expressed tennis player Cello Lockwood. “I do not think they represent the ideas circulating around campus. A mascot should be inspirational and reflect what the students want.” Baseball player Alex Behrman was also less than pleased: “None of them packed a punch.”

Faced with voting, many knew which they did not want: swimmer Gaby Thomas believes, “Appaloosas is stretching it too far, and the Blue Ravens is too ‘high school mascot’…it just doesn’t mean anything.” Behrman thought, “The Blue Ravens came out of nowhere,” and Lockwood joked, “I like horses and I still don’t want to be the Appaloosas.”

It is not that our athletes are not putting significant thought into the implications of which is chosen, however. Thomas was excited about the design possibilities for the Blues but, for the Sockeyes, added, “As a swimmer that would be kind of fun.” Of the Blues, soccer player Collin Faunt said, “I go for what I think would be most fun at a sports game. Mountains are easy to make with your hands, so that’s cool. Imagine the whole crowd.”

Considering potential drawbacks, cross country runner Bryn Carlson noted half-jokingly, “Cross country’s biggest rivals are the Whitworth Pirates and the Willamette Bearcats, so I feel like [with the Sockeyes] there could be a lot of jokes about being eaten.”

Despite the various qualms and considerations, one mascot prevailed as the unanimous choice. “Of the four options, the Blues is the most preferable. It’s unique to Whitman, easy to say,” stated Lockwood. Behrman likes it because “you can do a lot of stuff with the Blues–you can interpret it how you want it.” Both Faunt and Thomas expressed affinity to the regional significance of the option. “It’s something people can identify with. The Blues are an iconic part of the Walla Walla area,” Thomas said.

It should be noted that those interviewed do not necessarily represent the entire athletic community, and many others have their own unique opinions. Ultimately, Whitman’s athletes want the mascot, whatever it becomes, to be a source of excitement for the sporting events they work so hard to perform at. Carlson hopes the mascot is “a figure that people can rally around and an origin of school spirit and pride.” While we are certainly choosing a mascot for all of Whitman, it will most explicitly come to represent our athletes. What would you want to cheer for at a match, meet or game? Voting ends Oct. 30.