Mascot designs put to vote

UND student body choosing favorite Fighting Hawks costume design through online balloting

Erik Hanson

UND Student Body President Erik Hanson reviews design options for a new Fighting Hawk mascot. UND students are currently voting for their favorite design for a Fighting Hawks costume to be “hatched” next fall. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

The vote is on!

Excitement is swirling as students head to the online polls to choose their favorite look for the Fighting Hawks mascot.

Erik Hanson, UND student body president-elect, has been with the process since the beginning.

“After serving on the Game Day Experience Committee, I was able to see that people wanted something truly identifiable,” he told UND Today. “A mascot is something that will keep the train moving forward and build excitement for North Dakota Athletics.”

In April, Rickabaugh Graphics was tasked by the 17-person UND Mascot Committee to provide three graphic identities using characteristics recommended by the group of UND student and athletic representatives. The award-winning design company has created over 500 identities for over 250 schools, including “Brutus the Buckeye,” the mascot for Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State.

Kara Kohns

UND Student Kara Kohns is a member of the 17-person UND Mascot Committee that was assembled to provide three graphic identities using characteristics recommended by UND student groups and athletic representatives. Photo by Connor Murphy/UND Today.

Alumni donations

Now it’s up to the student body to decide on the two-dimensional representation for the Fighting Hawks mascot. Their selection determines how the physical character looks as it goes into production.

“Having a logo rollout before, we saw what was done well and what we could have done better,” Hanson said. “One of the biggest things was making sure the students had a way to make a decision.”

Hanson stressed the importance of this process being a student-led initiative, noting that students held a majority of seats on the UND Mascot Committee, which he co-chairs.

The roughly $35,000 cost of designing the mascot was completely covered by private donations from UND Alumni who specifically wanted their gifts to go to the development of a new mascot. No state funds were used in the development or design.

UND President Mark Kennedy, who has the final say on the mascot design, says he will defer to the winner of the student vote.

“The students taking the lead in creating UND’s new mascot are writing history, starting a new UND tradition,” Kennedy said. “The vote belongs to today’s students. We are excited to see how they will leave their mark on what it means to be the Fighting Hawks.”

North Dakota Athletics Director Bill Chaves carried the same sentiment, saying that the decision is a unique opportunity that students can take pride in.

“It was great to see the involvement from different parts of the student body,” he said. “Three student-athletes served on the committee. They are dedicated to their sport in competition and they were dedicated to this process to help with this initiative that will be a visible part of this University for years to come.”

“I think it’s awesome and such a humbling opportunity we have as students to impact this University in such a monumental way,” John Santiago, UND Football running back, said of the student vote. “This decision will engrave us into UND and that’s something special.”

On the ballot

Choice X

Choice “X”

Choice Y

Choice “Y”

Choice "Z"

Choice “Z”

‘Game Day’ caliber

Both Santiago and his head coach, Kyle “Bubba” Schweigert, look forward to how an embodiment of the Fighting Hawks can enhance the experience of game day.

“It’s wonderful that we’re moving forward,” Coach Bubba said. “This is an important piece to connect with not only younger people, but the entire community. It improves the atmosphere for our passionate fan base.”

“We’ve had many changes in my time here and I’m honored to see how we’re evolving,” Santiago continued. “From the perspective of an athlete, this will only elevate our experience as players.”

Jacob Notermann — who represents student-athletic booster NoDak Nation on the committee with two other students — is excited for students to be more involved in the rich, athletic history of UND.

“To be honest, I was initially skeptical about having a mascot,” Notermann recalled. “Throughout the process, I gained more and more excitement over its hatching. It’s an excellent opportunity to take this new era in North Dakota Athletics and incorporate new aspects to its legacy.”

Another student on the committee, Kara Kohns, shared the optimism in creating a Fighting Hawk.

“Having a mascot around our campus will heighten the experience at any event,” she said. “I’m excited to give our future Fighting Hawk mascot a high five once it comes to life!”

Summit mascots

UND was the only member school of the Summit League not represented by a mascot at the at the athletics conference’s last meeting of presidents. UND will begin Summit League Competition later this year. Image courtesy of the UND President Mark Kennedy.

Athletic evolution

Legacy, tradition and history are all words commonly used when discussing the University’s athletic programs. In the case of UND, a living mascot of this variety hasn’t been seen in years – at least in an official capacity. Since “Thunder the Bleacher Creature” mysteriously disappeared in the early 1990s, UND has missed a ‘head of hype.’

For Mike Mannausau, associate athletic director, major gifts with the UND Alumni Association & Foundation, introducing a mascot is weaving a new piece of fabric into the tapestry of UND. He’s participated in the process as a non-voting member of the mascot committee.

“I think we’re seeing more and more support for creating new traditions, including among our alumni,” Mannausau said. “The University is rich in its tradition and history, and now we’re starting something that’s going to evolve over time and have its place.”

“The biggest thing is — this is something that students will be completely in control of,” Hanson reinforced. “They have the decision of what it’s going to be. We’re excited that alumni have come forward and basically funded this.”

Hanson says the cost of developing a mascot has been a primary concern while listening to different constituents, and that specific alumni came and said they had money they wanted to put toward the project.

“We think it’s going to be better for the University, athletics and every group involved,” he said, adding that maintenance and other related costs will be handled by North Dakota Athletics. “The students aren’t paying a dollar toward building this costume.”

As for when it will be revealed, or “hatched,” and officially named, Mannausau says to expect it sometime in the fall.

“This week, we’re going to find a winner,” he said. “Over the summer and into fall, we’ll start to have a better idea of when to unveil the physical, finished product.”

If you’re a student, be sure to click this link and vote for your favorite design! The winner will be announced Thursday, May 3.