(Photo Courtesy of McAuliffeschool.blogspot.com) “Rowdy the River Hawk laying down after playing some games.”
Throughout the history of UMass Lowell, there have been many different mascots. Some have gained better reception than others. From a bull terrier to a bird’s blue transformation, this will be an overview of the history of UMass Lowell’s favorite sports icon, along with a ranking.
Before there was Rowdy, there were the Millmen, the Globetrotters, the Indians and Tex the Terrier, all of which were mascots when UMass Lowell was recognized as a different institution.
The first mascot recognized by students was “Terry Tex”, who was a bull terrier. Terry Tex was the first mascot that was truly embraced by athletics, having his banner flown around during games and he represented the values of Lowell Textile Institute.
Unfortunately for Terry Tex, his reign would not last forever. In 1975, Lowell State College and Lowell Technological Institute (Lowell Textile Institute’s new name) merged to become the University of Lowell and the new University would bring a new mascot.
The University of Lowell decided their new mascot would be Charlie Chief. This mascot would last for about 20 years before ultimately being voted out for its controversial depiction of a Native American chief.
In 1994, the University would ask the community for submissions for who they would like to see as the new mascot. The idea of a Hawk would come from then hockey coach Bruce Crowder. The idea of the River Hawk would be influenced by the Merrimack River.
“The River Hawk has keen vision, sharp focus and a competitive spirit,” said Ralph Lawson, then president of the Friends of UMass Lowell Hockey, when introducing the mythical bird. “It soars to great heights, but never loses its connection to the river and land below.”
Ralph Lawson, who created the original image of the River Hawk said, “The River Hawk has keen vision, sharp focus and a competitive spirit…it soars to great heights, but never loses its connection to the river and land below.”
The first appearance of the River Hawk mascots was at the Chelmsford Forum in October of 1994. There were twin River Hawks, one was blue and the other was red.
University of Lowell Athletics was always looking for new fun ways to get sports fans to love their mascots. After the twins, would be the famous Gruff Rowdy. This variation of Rowdy would start as a buff superhero and take some revisions to be more slim and cartoonish after scaring children a little more than opponents.
Rowdy would be a red bird until a tragic accident. In 2012, Rowdy and then captain Riley Wetmore and goaltender Doug Carr of the ice hockey team were delivering season tickets to fans when Rowdy pushed Carr out of the way of a car belonging to the University of Vermont that tried to hit him. Rowdy was rushed to the hospital and made a full recovery but had some changes at Lowell General.
Rowdy would have to have life administered that ultimately turned him blue. Luckily for him, fans all around embraced his new look and he has been the same since.
Now for the ranking of mascots. In last place would be the Lowell Chiefs. The mascot itself is generic and does not have many variations because the University did not want to do anything derogatory. The mascot at hockey games was a puck with their logo on it, not very intimidating to say the least.
In second to last place would be Gruff Rowdy. Gruff Rowdy is quite scary and does not give off the same vibes as present-day Rowdy. Gruff Rowdy was just a little too “human-esque” rather than “birdy” which makes it seem like less of an animal mascot and more like a cartoon superhero.
Next up is the original Hawk. This variation is very generic, but not scary in any way. This is a tie along with the twins because they are more fun than anything.
After this, there is Red Rowdy. Red rowdy was the Rowdy that got hit by a car. Red Rowdy is still a little too cartoonish. He is a great mascot, but a little too red.
In second place for best mascot would be Terry Tex. Terry Tex is so high because of everything he stands for. Terry Tex and Rowdy the River Hawk have many similarities, such as what they stand for and their impact on students. In Terry’s time, he was beloved by students and was embraced similarly to Rowdy.
In first place is present-day Rowdy the River Hawk. Rowdy is an icon and beloved by fans old and new. He can be seen all over campus and looks amazing in blue.