By Joe Dougherty
The Crusader charged into being as the University of Dallas mascot last Wednesday, Dec. 3. The debut took place at halftime of the women’s basketball game versus Southwestern Adventist University, and the mascot stayed for the following men’s game. A historic number of fans cheered both UD teams to victory, each continuing its strong record.
Before stepping onto the court, the Crusader was just a haunting spirit. The artwork of Campus Minister Nick López and others gave it form, but the matter of it was more elusive. Luckily, with this year’s vibrant campus life, enthusiastic faith and energetic students and staff, the way was paved for the arrival of the mascot. It was time for a knight in shining armor to bring school spirit to a head.
President Keefe, vice president for enrollment Dr. John Plotts and residence coordinator for programming Catherine Duplant funded the mascot’s acquisition as an initiative of UD’s identity focus group, “Team UD.” Weeks of research, an interview with Russ Pharr of the chivalric martial arts group Schola St. George and running a magnet over North Texas eventually led the team to Medieval Times. There, in a corner, we saw our reflection in a burnished suit of steel: a little quirky, a tad anachronistic, bold and in need of a scrub and some vision. From the great helm to sabatons, this was our mascot.
Will the Crusader replace the Groundhog? No. To paraphrase Louis Hannegan (BA ‘13), former editor of The University News, our furry idol should play the role of rebel “underhog” to the mascot. Without a substantial Crusader, the Groundhog had usurped his role — now we have a balance. Each character appeals to our nature and society: the Crusader, to our human soul and the purposeful striving of the school; the Groundhog, to our animal disposition and the iconic weekend event.
We can now access our community through one figurehead. The anonymous representation the mascot provides is an element of organized humanity that we perpetuate everywhere from uniformed altar servers to the popular “University of Dallas (Unofficial)” Facebook page. The Crusader is the seal of a distinguished school, a majestic presence at any function, a service to our athletes and a perfect blend of the fun and practical. The helmet might collect donations at an alumni event, drama enthusiasts might hone their costuming skills on making it a plume and tunic and astonished freshmen will marvel during orientation at our magic that brings a statue suddenly to life. In every capacity, our clanging knight will resonate with students for generations.
Only by joining the broad, unitive mission of the mascot can we show school spirit. The Crusader and his community participate in mankind’s grandest scheme: the university. Here can thrive the purposeful training of every human capacity — religious, academic, athletic and social. Our mascot represents zeal and nobility of mind. And most of all, it stands for the University of Dallas. Surely, we can all band together to support that.