Athletics Hops on Albino Squirrel Bandwagon 


Oberlin Athletics

Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach Lynda McCandlish (left), Head Women’s Field Hockey Coach Anna Baeth, Head Men’s Soccer Coach Blake New, Head Soft- ball Coach Mimi Mahon, Associate Director of Athletics for Internal Opera- tions Mike Snyder and Head Volleyball Coach Erica Rau show off their new albino squirrel apparel. The mascot was introduced on New Year’s Day.

Sarena Malsin

On New Year’s Day, the Athletics department unleashed a new mascot: a hyper-muscular, blood-thirsty, red-eyed albino squirrel. The furry fellow has slowly made its way onto the apparel and equipment of Oberlin’s various sports teams, including basketball warm-up jerseys, golf balls and men’s lacrosse shirts and helmets.

“Everyone was already using it,” said Senior Associate Director of Athletics Creg Jantz, referring to the squirrel’s presence in the Admissions Office and around the school website. “It’s already such a big part of the history of the College; it’s as if we’re just jumping on the bandwagon.”

Jason Hudson, associate head track and field coach and assistant cross country coach agreed. “In a way, I don’t see it as new.I see it as the Athletics department being the last to embrace it.”

Oberlin has an unusually large population of albino squirrels, and their presence in Tappan Square was the motivation for the squirrel’s addition as a mascot.

“With no real mascot, we wanted to try to create some thing that our teams and other College students could have fun with,” Jantz said. He added that the squirrel was intended to foster a stronger connection between College athletes and students who are not on a varsity team.

Each team will determine if they want to sport the new mascot on their uniforms and equipment. “Each team will find a little way to use it, or not,” said Jantz. “That’s the great thing about it — it’s an option.”

Numerous Oberlin teams are already using the new mascot on their team apparel, and according to Jantz, it’s catching on. “People were nervous at first; they thought we were changing our nickname,” Jantz said. “[Now], I think people are starting to embrace it.”

For all of the positive motivations behind the albino squirrel mascot, reactions from student-athletes are mixed.

Senior basketball player Geoff Simpson sees the addition as nothing more than a minor change. “I feel like we should all just embrace it. I don’t think it’ll have a lasting effect — lots of schools have weird mascots,” he said.

Courtney Bolden, a first-year lacrosse player, expressed similar views. “I know it’s special to Oberlin, so I can understand why they chose it,” she said, though she also expressed a desire for “something more aggressive” to represent Oberlin sports teams.

But not all athletes have been so welcoming to the new mascot, and the whimsical nature of the albino squirrel has sparked some stronger opposition.

Senior lacrosse player Mickey Fiorillo said the introduction of a squirrel mascot is counterproductive to what he saw as a “revamping of the athletics program to get a more serious message across.”

“I don’t think it’s a step in the right direction to go from the Yeomen to the albino squirrel,” he said.

Sophomore soccer player John Ingham acknowledged the albino squirrel’s important presence on campus, but believes it has no place representing College athletes.

“The ‘OC’ was such a perfect representation of the College. My big problem is that [the albino squirrel] is going against tradition that’s been building for years.”

“I love the traditional ‘Yeomen,’ and I don’t consider myself an albino squirrel,” he said.

Sophomore swimmer Sarah Kahl said that the mascot isn’t intimidating enough to represent Oberlin’s sports teams. “Nobody’s scared of a squirrel,” she said.

Although the squirrel is receiving mixed feedback among student athletes, Jantz said that non-athletes have been especially interested in the new merchandise. “The Bookstore had people already calling looking for it [on apparel],” Jantz said.

The Bookstore will release an albino squirrel line of apparel this spring, and Jantz hinted that the Athletics Department will release albino squirrel promotions in the coming months.