April 22, 2009
QUEENS, N.Y. - St. John's students and fans of all ages are invited to log onto RedStormSports.com for a historic vote that will take place over the next two weeks. After a near 10-year hiatus, Red Storm supporters have the chance to select St. John's new sports mascot from April 23 to May 4.
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 finalists, which will be presented via RedStormSports.com on Thursday, April 23.
Following the open online voting, the new mascot will be unveiled at the start of the 2009-10 academic year and will be visible at many St. John's athletic events as well as around the community. Please keep in mind that only one vote will count per e-mail address. Repeated votes will be discarded at the time of tabulation.
The St. John's mascot concept sketches, which will appear on RedStormSports.com on Thursday, were 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 men of 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.
In the 1990's the University unveiled "Thunder," a red horse mascot, and "Lightning" his smaller sidekick. The duo would not last long into the new millennium, however, and were put out to pasture in the early 2000s. St. John's has been without a mascot since the horse tandem's departure.