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Phoenix 101: Context Behind Loyola’s Athletic Team Nickname, Mascot, School Colors and Seal

Courtesy of Loyola Archives & Special CollectionsIn Loyola history, Lu Wolf wasn’t the only face of Loyola’s athletic teams and “Ramblers'' wasn't Loyola sport teams’ first nickname.

Most Loyola students take pride in sporting maroon and gold and cheering on Loyola’s athletic teams, but might not know much of the university’s history or its first mascot Bo Rambler — a homeless man.

Loyola’s mascot and athletic team nickname have evolved twice over the years, but its school colors and seal have remained consistent; the mascots, team names, school colors and seal have been for the most part linked to St.Ignatius — the founder of the Jesuits. 

The Phoenix breaks down the stories behind Loyola’s mascot, school colors and seal to help students understand the context behind the components that represent their school. 

Athletic Team Nickname

Loyola’s athletic teams weren’t always referred to as the Ramblers. Over the years, athletic teams at the university have been called a few different names. 

Since the beginning of sports at the university, all athletic teams have been referred to by Loyola’s school colors — “maroon and gold.” But in 1925 football coach Roger Kiley collaborated with Loyola News, now The Loyola Phoenix, to set up a contest to designate a proper nickname for the football team, according to library archives

Once the contest was conducted in 1925, “Grandees” — a term associated with the aristocratic Loyola family — was voted as the new nickname for the football team, according to Loyola library archivist Kathryn Young. However, over the next year, “Grandees” lost popularity and “Ramblers”— a nickname introduced by a newspaper reporter — gained traction as a result of the team’s frequent “rambling” across the country for football games, according to library archives

“I think Ramblers caught on because it was more in tune,” Young said. “I think people thought Grandees might have implied elite which wouldn’t have represented what Loyola was at that time.”

When football was discontinued at Loyola in 1930, the name “Ramblers” persisted through other athletic teams until this day, according to library archives

Mascot

Loyola’s athletic teams didn’t have a mascot to hype up the crowd during games prior to the 1980s. It wasn’t until 1982 when “Bo Rambler,” a homeless man, became the face of Loyola’s sports, according to Young and library archives

“I think at that time they had the name Ramblers but they had nothing to identify what was a Rambler, so I think the administration at that time looked at a homeless man as a hobo and bo was short for hobo,” Senior Associate Athletics Director Tom Hitcho said. “Someone who rambled and went throughout the country so I think that was the intent and purpose at that time.” 

“Bo Rambler” continued to be the mascot for eight years until the university made the decision to replace him with “LU Wolf.” Loyola didn’t believe it was appropriate for a homeless man to represent the university, according to library archives, and Lu was a more apt name due to the wolf’s connection with St. Ignatius, according to library archives

Loyola student Amber Creasey said she wasn’t aware that a homeless man used to represent the university’s athletic teams in the past, but said she feels indifferent about it.

“We are all humans and we should have equal opportunity to work and be happy so it doesn’t make a difference to me who our mascot was before or after as long as he is a mascot that spreads kindness just like our school’s intended purpose,” Creasey said.    

Wolves are incorporated in the university seal to signify the compassionate characteristics of St. Ignatius’ family while providing people and animals with food, according to the university’s website.

School Colors 

Loyola’s school colors, maroon and gold — colors adorned on the House of Loyola — are often sported by students, faculty and staff to demonstrate pride in Loyola’s athletic teams. 

Similar to the mascot, the university’s colors also originated from St. Ignatius’ family. The same colors are on the St. Ignatius family seal — “seven red bars on a field of gold,” Loyola spokesperson Anna Shymanski Zach said. 

Seal

The Loyola seal can be found in many “legal documentations, proclamations, and highly honorific materials,” including diplomas, Loyola’s website says.  

The seal’s image represents St. Ignatius’ family, who provided food to people and animals in need, according to Loyola’s website. There are also seven stripes in the image to symbolize the service of St. Ignatius’ relatives who served in a battle to support the king, according to Young and Loyola’s website.

The seal also depicts a black phoenix sitting on red flames carrying two gold keys, a border of laurel leaves surrounding the image, the phrase “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” — For the Greater Glory of God — printed on the bottom of the seal in red and the date and the university’s name in gold, among other things, the website said.The depiction of the phoenix is inspired from the Chicago and Archdiocese of Chicago seal, according to Young, and represents the city overcoming the Great Chicago Fire — a barn fire in 1871 that spread to several areas in Chicago and killed 300 people. The keys and leaves represent education and victory, respectively, according to Young.

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