North Adams Transcript
NORTH ADAMS -- Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts wants the public to help create a new mascot to represent the Trailblazers athletic teams.
The mascot will join the existing Trailblazers name and logo, which were adopted in 2002. Suggestions, which should use the college’s blue and gold colors and be appropriate for athletic and non-athletic events, will be accepted until the end of the month. MCLA’s mascot will make its debut in October, at Midnight Madness, the traditional start of the college’s basketball season.
"We have been talking about having a mascot that would complement the nickname ‘Trailblazers’ ever since we changed the nickname," MCLA Director of Athletics Scott Nichols said in a release. "The idea is to have something we can have some fun with at games and other events, like the Fall Foliage Parade, camps and clinics. Hopefully, we can get a mascot that we can dress up and create some excitement with."
MCLA Dean of Students Charlotte Degan said Tuesday that it has always been the college’s intention to put a mascot in place since it adopted the Trailblazers logo a decade ago.
"A mascot just adds a certain ambiance to the games," she said. "We have great subscribership for our games, and as it goes at any college or sports game, a character adds to the fun. A mascot sort of makes a game seem more like an event."
The college’s Mascot Committee will meet in April to go over the suggestions before passing along any ideas to the President’s Athletic Advisory Council, which will make the final decision.
Degan said the committee has already received 24 suggestions.
The Trailblazers logo and name were adopted after the college dropped "The Mohawks," its former nickname, logo and mascot in March 2002.
The decision to part ways with the American Indian moniker followed almost two years of debate on the college campus, which included a talk by Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills.
The issue of whether or not the Mohawk image should be kept arose in late 2000, when then-student Jaime Arsenault expressed concern about students using the "tomahawk chop" during a heated basketball game against Salem State. Arsenault, who identified herself as being "Metis" -- half Native American -- said she felt uncomfortable by the display and felt compelled to leave the stadium.
In early 2001, Nichols championed the cause to nix the Mohawk moniker, saying that by adopting a new logo and nickname, the college would come in line with the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) emerging policy to limit the use of American Indian mascots, nicknames and imagery.
In 2002, the Trailblazers name was chosen for its connections to the historic and recreational trails near the city, including the Mohawk Trail, Appalachian Trail, Long Trail, Taconic Trail and the Molly Stark Trail.
The college’s first mascot appeared in 1940 -- a doll named "Stacey," who’s name was an acronym for then State Teacher’s College. Later in the 1940s, the college used "Gremlins" for its nickname. From the 1950s to 1963, the college’s athletic teams were known as the "Professors." In 1963, North Adams State College adopted the name "Mohawks."
For guidelines and to make a mascot suggestion, visit www.mcla.edu/mascot.