The Bird Is The Word! St. John's Rolls Out New Thunderbird Mascot On Friday
Sept. 18, 2009
QUEENS, N.Y. - Have you heard about the bird?
St. John's University's new mascot will be of an ornithological variety, as after a near 10-year hiatus, more than 11,000 votes from students and fans selected the Red Storm Thunderbird from a list of six finalists. The yet-to-be-named avian character will appear to the public for the first time on Friday, Sept. 18, during the highly-anticipated men's and women's soccer BIG EAST doubleheader that kicks off at 5 p.m. as the No. 18 Red Storm women take on Syracuse and the No. 15 men meet Georgetown.
The next step in the process will be to name the mascot, through a vote by current St. John's students. From Monday, Sept. 21 to Friday, Sept. 25, students will be able to vote via e-mail through St. John's Central. Will the mascot be "Johnny The Thunderbird?", or "Bolt," "Spirit," "Stormy," or "Surge?" Or will the Thunderbird be named something else, as students will have the opportunity to write in a vote.
The Thunderbird was chosen during a 12-day span between April 23 and May 4, when more than 11,000 votes were cast on RedStormSports.com to decide among the six Red Storm mascot finalists. Now that the voting process has come to its conclusion, the Thunderbird mascot will debut this weekend and will be visible at many St. John's athletic events, as well as on campus and in the greater New York City community.
In the Fall of 2008, a panel of student-athletes, University administrators and students representing several different campus organizations gathered to brainstorm ideas and nominate potential mascots. The list of choices was narrowed down to six, which were revealed on RedStormSports.com on April 23.
The St. John's mascot was created by Olympus Inc., renowned nationally as the mascot costume industry's premier designer. Olympus has manufactured a wide variety of corporate, entertainment and university mascot costumes. Highly visible mascot costumes, including Ronald McDonald, Tony the Tiger, The University of Wisconsin Badger and The University of Florida Gator have been designed and manufactured using the Olympus design team's creative expertise.
In the early years of intercollegiate competition, St. John's teams were known as the "Johnnies." It wasn't until the 1920's that "Redmen" was first used and that came about when a reporter used the term after the football team took the field clad in totally red uniforms. According to several written sources and many an old tale, a group of St. John's students led by Walter Bruce (Class of 1939) and Michael McNichols (Class of 1931) went out and found that mascot standing in front of a cigar store. "Chief Blackjack" made his first public appearance in his new position at the St. John's-Catholic University football game at Ebbets Field. When the underdog Redmen went on to a 22-0 victory, there was no turning back. Bruce later admitted that he and others returned and paid for the pilfered mascot.
The decision was made to change the "Redmen" nickname in 1994. At the time, colleges nationwide were becoming more sensitive to mounting Native American concerns in reference to collegiate and professional team nicknames that reference Native American culture. Although the nickname "Redmen" was instituted because the athletes at St. John's wore red, and did not have an original basis in Native American culture, it did evolve into a nickname that referenced Native American symbology. St. John's wanted to make a change that would stay true to its tradition, but also be distinctive and unique. Thus, the new nickname Red Storm was born.