MCLA is looking for a mascot and wants your ideas for the new Trailblazer.
Later this year, the new mascot will join the existing Trailblazer name and logo to represent MCLA, especially its athletics programs. This month, the College seeks input and ideas from all who are fans of MCLA, whether they're in the Berkshires or beyond.
"To have an actual 'face' represent this College is pretty exciting," said Jackie Nash '12, one of six students on the committee heading up the search for the mascot. Also a member of the women's soccer team and a student leader on campus, she said a lot of students have been talking about who the new mascot should be.
"There have been a couple of different ideas thrown around, and people are getting pretty creative," Nash said.
Suggestions to date include a mountain lion and a moose, as well as a hiker/trailblazer. Ideas are being accepted through the end of March. So far, the committee has received about 100 proposals.
MCLA adopted the "Trailblazer" name in 2002, in reference to connections to the historic and recreational trails in the North Adams area, such as the African-American Heritage Trail, Appalachian Trail, Long Trail, Mohawk Trail, Molly Stark Trail, Taconic Trail and the Mount Greylock trail system.
According to Scott Nichols, director of athletics at MCLA, "We have been talking about having a mascot that would complement the nickname 'Trailblazers' ever since we changed the nickname. The idea is to have something we can have some fun with, at games and other events like the fall foliage parade and camps and clinics. Hopefully, we can get a mascot that we can dress up and create some excitement."
Adam Hildabrand, chair of the mascot committee, said an information session will be held after students return from their spring break. A "Build a Mascot" event also is planned to generate interest and gather more suggestions. Similar to the "Build a Bear" store, participants will dress up various stuffed animals as possible mascots.
"The goal is to generate interest and gather more suggestions. We will have laptops out for submitting your ideas," Hildabrand said. "It is a fun way of reaching out to the MCLA public."
One of the earliest mascots was "Stacey," a doll that represented the College in 1940. Later in '40s, the College used the name of "Gremlins." Then, from the 1950s until 1963, the College nickname was the "Professors."
In 1963, North Adams State College adopted the name "Mohawks," which remained in place until 2002, when then-MCLA President Thomas Aceto announced the College would cease to use the Mohawk name to bring MCLA in line with the National Collegiate Athletic Association's emerging policy to limit the use of Native American mascots, nicknames and imagery.
The mascot committee will meet in April to go over the suggestions before the ideas are passed along to the President's Athletic Advisory Council (PAAC), which will make the final decision.
Fans will meet MCLA's new mascot in October, at Midnight Madness, the traditional start of the basketball season.