The Ithaca College Mascot Selection Task Force announced the flying squirrel as the second of three finalists today in the college’s search for the next Bomber.
According to the task force’s website, the flying squirrel represents the diligent and prepared nature of the student body, as it has to collect enough acorns to survive a winter’s rest. Two separate species of the flying squirrel have been spotted at Ithaca’s Fall Creek Gorge. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the squirrels glide and do not fly.
The third finalist will be revealed around 11 a.m. tomorrow in a video on the task force’s website.
The college announced a search for a new mascot on Nov. 19 to correspond with its branding initiative, according to the task force’s website. Between Nov. 30 and Jan. 12, the task force received mascot suggestions from students, faculty, staff and alumni. Later in January, the task force voted for three finalists from more than 250 submissions, and it has since been working with an outside rendering firm to develop visual representations of the finalists.
Sybil Conrad, assistant director of the Campus Center and Events Services, junior Joseph Gilfedder and senior Rachel Koch all separately submitted the flying squirrel concept.
As a Clemson University graduate, Conrad said she’s familiar with mascots, such as Clemson’s tiger, playing a notable role in the college experience, so she entered the competition in an attempt to give the Bomber a larger presence on the campus. She said she decided on the flying squirrel because of its relevance to the nickname Bomber.
“When I came upon the idea of flying squirrel, that was the one animal where the name ‘Bomber’ actually seemed to fit perfectly,” she said. “If I were to ever have a pet flying squirrel — which I wouldn’t — but if I did, I would name it ‘Bomber,’ because it would just be such a great name for a flying squirrel.”
The draft logo shows a squirrel equipped with a scarf, glasses and a helmet, stretching the excess skin from its sides to freely glide. Behind the squirrel, the bottom half of an acorn forms below the Ithaca College Bomber’s banner.
Dave Wohlhueter ’60, one of four task force co-chairs, said the task force was searching for a mascot that would engage school spirit, translate into a costume and last for years to come. Wohlhueter said the flying squirrel is strong and spunky, but its novelty would also interest students.
“We were looking for something that would appeal to kids — kids coming to games and other events that the mascot would be at,” he said. “I thought the flying squirrel fit that image.”
Mike Lindberg, associate director of intercollegiate athletics, said the inclusion of members of the college community in the mascot selection process will eventually produce a better outcome for everyone.
“We think it’s very important to have the community involved in the process,” he said. “That way, you end up with ownership, and once you have ownership, you have pride and spirit. That’s how you develop communities.”