After waking up the morning after the Las Vegas shooting and turning on the news, Tim Murray, Director of Athletics at Marist College decided to make a change. “The gunman was not yet identified on the news so he was only referred to as “the shooter”…that’s when I realized that’s our mascot’s name and decided it should change,” said Murray.
He envisions Marist’s mascot to be fun and inspiring, a true representation of the college. He explained it’s not about the name being offensive, but more so the association the name can carry. He brought this idea to his team and they all agreed. There have been no complaints about the name so far and he feels it hasn’t been taken the wrong way, yet. “If the down the road it can offend even one person, then it’s not worth it,” said Murray.
Since Murray and his team feel it is time to change the name they have also decided to integrate the new name without a lot of campus involvement or awareness. Many students and faculty were completely unaware that this was happening.
Senior, Lindsey Michalewicz is on the board of the Student Government Association [S.G.A.] as the Vice President of Club Affairs. She confirmed that S.G.A. has not discussed it at all in the office and she has not heard anything about it herself.
Besides S.G.A. ambassadors are also heavily involved with campus events, opportunities, etc. Senior Hayley Critchfield is an ambassador, tour guide, and greeter. All of which are employed by admissions. Her jobs include meeting and shadowing potential students, panning and being in promotional videos, giving tours around campus and being fully knowledgeable about all things Marist in the admissions office.
Critchfield’s initial reaction to hearing the news about the mascot was shocked. Once told the explanation she understood the reasoning for it and is excited to find out the new name. She is pretty sure the name change will not have a large impact on her jobs. They do not often talk about the mascot or refer to him by name on tours. When he is at events such as St. Jude Up Till Dawn or contained in promotional videos, the red fox mascot isn’t identified by name.
“It has been an association that I have tied to Marist for the three and a half years I’ve been a student. But the school is always changing and he is not our [Marist] brand or identity.” Critchfield said as she continued to assume the impact it will or will not have. “All apparel features only the fox head or says “The Red Foxes” on it. So they won’t lose money on having to change or take away products. And with MPorium [student-run enterprise at Marist] growing, the fox isn’t all that we are anymore.”
Athletes are constantly pictured with or around the Marist mascot at games and events. Three Marist football players had an opinion on the matter:
“I’m disappointed because I feel everyone loved and recognized the Marist red Fox as “Shooter,” said Jack Griffith.
“I understand why it could be controversial but at the same time it’s just a mascot, does it really need to be changed?” said Jake Taparausky.
“It’s weird. I’m a junior and being here for two years I feel it won’t be the same,” said Antonio Hroncich.
Regardless of student’s opinions and concerns, the name is being changed and has already been chosen.
Choosing a new name was done with the same articulation and thought that originally went into picking Shooter.
Marist rebranded some of their image approximately 15 years ago. Murray explained it was a different time back then. The beloved red fox mascot was named Shooter after the successful record of the Marist basketball teams. Now the term ‘shooter’ has a new meaning. With recent tragedies such as Sandy Hook, Orlando and Las Vegas, the association that goes along with the term is not something Marist wants people to think of when they see the college mascot at a game or event.
“It was done completely internally,” said Murray. The hint he gave was “We try to draw in evolution.”
The mascot will be seen in a new uniform and be introduced with his new name at the Woman’s Basketball game on Friday, November 10.
There is a rumor from some students that his name may be Francis the Fox, but that is not confirmed. Other students wish they had a say in the name.
Senior Media Studies major, Sarah Shatas said: “I feel it would have been a good opportunity to involve all the students in a creative aspect an make us feel like we have a say in our mascot’s name.”
“Let the kids talk for the mascot!” said Hroncich
This change may seem like a little detail to some is an emotional transition for others. Murray is confident this is the right choice and is looking forward to the announcement at the game. He and his team are willing to answer anyone’s questions about why the name was changed. Though there is no other reason than it was just time with all that is happening in the world now.
“Everyone knows groundhogs are the unofficial mascot of Marist anyways,” said Critchfield.