Following a lengthy discernment process and in collaboration with Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center, the Goshen College Mascot Committee is proud to announce that a community of 21 new embodied mascots will represent the Maple Leafs at athletic and community events.
The mascots are based on animal species native to Northern Indiana and the costumes that Merry Lea currently has stored in closets. This new group of animals will collectively be referred to as the “Enchanted Mascots.”
The animals include the American Toad, Beaver, Big Brown Bat, Bullfrog, Cecropia Moth, Coyote, Flying Squirrel, Great Horned Owl, Firefly, Monarch Butterfly, Mosquito, Muskrat, Opossum, Raccoon, Red Fox, Snapping Turtle, Garden Spider, Striped Skunk, White-Footed Mouse, White-Tail Deer and Woodcock.
“This approach embodies our campus culture of community and collaboration, with mascots who can support and encourage each other and our teams,” said Jodi Beyeler, vice president of communication and mascot strategy. “This will give us a distinct competitive advantage in the NAIA. No other schools have a team of mascots like this, so we’re on the cutting edge of mascot strategy that we think others will want to emulate when they see how it improves our performance.”
Last year, the Goshen College Mascot Committee conducted a survey with students and alumni to discern the type of physical mascot that would best represent the Maple Leafs. However, those survey results were lost when squirrels nested in the campus servers during winter break, drawn by the warmth.
When the Mascot Committee learned about the costumes used by Merry Lea for their annual Enchanted Forest event, the pieces began to fall into place. After hours of debate and no agreement on which animal costume would best represent the college, the committee decided to simply use all of them.
“Most people think you just need one mascot, but I think it will be great to have so many,” said Professor S. Quirrell, a biology professor and a member of the Mascot Committee. “We can roll out with a spider at a softball game, a toad at a track meet, a butterfly at a basketball game, a skunk at a soccer match, a fox at a volleyball game, a bullfrog at a baseball game, a turtle at a tennis match, a coyote at a cross-country meet, or even the woodcock at Kick-Off.”
For individual athletics events, the costumed mascot will be chosen based on the competition.
“For instance, when we play the Huntington University Foresters, we’ll roll out with the beaver mascot,” said Erica Albertin, athletic director. “Y’know, because beavers eat trees. Did you know that three teams in our league have cougar mascots? I bet a skunk could take those on.”
Although Merry Lea staff were reluctant at first to share their well-loved hand-sewn costumes, they soon realized it would be a great environmental education opportunity for the community.
“We negotiated with the athletics department so that whenever one of these animals acts as a mascot at a sporting event, they are legally required to mix environmental education facts alongside their cheers,” said Marcos Stoltzfus, Director of Environmental Education Outreach.
Stoltzfus shared an example cheer:
“You’re slower than a Glacial Esker!
Our defense is like a carbon soil sequester!
Competitions we will win
We learned problem solving in
The Sustainability Leadership Semester!”
Thank you for reading this year’s April Fools Day story!
While the Goshen College Maple Leafs’ embodied mascot has not been officially announced yet, plans are in the works and still moving forward based on student and alumni input, collected in the fall semester by the college’s actual Mascot Committee. Stay tuned for information about an official announcement about the selection coming soon, opportunities for further input and an unveiling next fall. In the meantime, enjoy this interview with Dan the Squirrel Man who has been bringing mascot energy to cheering on the Maple Leafs this semester!
Note: If you’d like to volunteer your time sewing/creating native Indiana animal costumes for Merry Lea’s Enchanted Forest event (seriously), please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.