Regis University’s Regi explains mascots

From Regi the Ranger to the Phillie Phanatic: A Short History of Mascots


Often, when I’m getting my picture taken or doing my famous trick shots people ask me how I got to be the Regis mascot.

Unfortunately, I can’t answer that. Partly because that is top-secret and partly because I can’t actually speak. This shouldn’t surprise you. I’m a fox! Foxes can’t talk! But if we did, What Does the Fox Say?

But I digress.

I take my job representing Regis seriously, and I’m not just in it for the donuts. (Although a good chocolate-covered will definitely ramp up my enthusiasm several notches). A good mascot not only entertains, but reflects a school’s culture, unites fans, players and students and serves as a recognizable institutional symbol. That’s a lot of work. No wonder I’m always hungry.

So, I’ve done my research, and I can share a bit of what I learned. For instance, the word 'mascot' comes from the French term 'mascotte' meaning lucky charm. I like to think I’m both lucky and charming.

Yale University claims it had the first official animal mascot, a bulldog named Handsome Dan that belonged to a member of the class of 1892. Yale currently is on its 18th Handsome Dan.

Back in those days, teams brought live animals to games as mascots -– usually predators expected to roar and snarl and scare opponents. Teams wanted their mascot to be more fearsome than the opponent’s.

As a fox, I would have no trouble dispatching Uga, that drooly bulldog they’re so fond of in Georgia, or making Duck soup out of that goofy Oregon creature. I would never do that, of course; despite being a fox, I am wholly committed to non-violence.

That idea of pitting one mascot against another has mostly died out, fortunately, but rivalries do get out of hand, like a few years ago, when the Stanford Tree and Oski, University of California bear got into a fist fight. Which, to me, not only disgraced us mascots, but also would seem to put the Tree at a disadvantage, what with trees not having fists.

Occasionally, schools get creative, and think outside the zoo for their mascot. Like Wake Forest’s Demon Deacon and University of California Santa Cruz’ Banana Slugs. Sometimes that creativity goes too far, like at St. Louis University. I doubt I’m the only fox who has no earthly idea what a Billiken is. And there’s the Wichita State WuShock, which is— get this -- a walking bundle of wheat. Although I grant you, that must strike fear into the hearts of gluten-intolerant opponents.

For its first 30-some years, Regis was College of the Sacred Heart, with no nickname or mascot. So, opposing teams took to yelling things like “Kill Sacred Heart,” which didn’t sit too well with the Jesuit leadership.

When our name changed in 1921, there was a contest to choose a team name and “Rangers” was the overwhelming favorite. Our old school newspaper, the Brown and Gold, approved. “Besides being a name at once racy, aggressive and full of meaning to a Westerner, when linked with Regis, it possesses the music of alliteration and readily lends itself to yells,” editors wrote.

The practice of having a live mascot began to die out around the 1960s for several reasons. One, people worried about how the animals were treated. And, in the case of the Chicago Cubs, the little bears had a not-so-surprising habit of biting people.

Some people credit the Muppets with inspiring the trend toward furry, cartoonish mascots. I’ve even heard that the Phillie Phanatic was based on Miss Piggy. I say that’s hogwash. Miss Piggy is a delicate, refined swine, while the Phanatic is, well, from Philadelphia. ‘Nuff said.

So there you have it, a brief rundown on mascots, from a mascot. Go Rangers!

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