Fighting Hawk takes the field

First official mascot in University’s history touched down before UND Homecoming matchup

Roaring out of the gate on an ATV, the Fighting Hawk made its landing at the University of North Dakota before the football team's Homecoming matchup. Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

Roaring out of the gate on an ATV, The Fighting Hawk made its landing at the University of North Dakota before the football team’s Homecoming matchup. Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

It led the team out of the tunnel, it worked the crowd, it posed for selfies – The Fighting Hawk has landed.

UND’s first official mascot roared out of the gate, on an ATV, before Satruday’s Homecoming/Potato Bowl showdown with Idaho State.

Kyle Doperalski, associate athletic director, had some time to watch The Fighting Hawk circle the Alerus Center concourse and interact with fans during the second quarter.

Fans of all ages wanted a picture with the newest addition to UND Athletics.

“It couldn’t take two steps without somebody wanting to interact with it,” Doperalski said. “I’m not even sure it made it to the other side of the stadium, even though we had a schedule of where it was supposed to go.”

The newest addition to UND Athletics made its rounds during the game - engaging fans young and old. Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

The newest addition to UND Athletics made its rounds during the game – engaging fans young and old. Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

From paper to turf

Breanna Kofstad was involved at almost every step in bringing The Fighting Hawk to life. As UND’s spirit squad coach, she now takes the role of guiding it through its fledgling stages. The Hawk had a couple weeks to get familiar with its wings.

Kofstad was excited to see months of hard work pay off as it took the field.

“At first, I was worried about the personification of a stoic logo,” she said. “How do you take that and put it into physical being? But it has exceeded my expectations – it looks phenomenal and the head is awesome. It does a great job of embodying our school spirit.”

Naturally, younger fans were more enthralled with The Fighting Hawk, but even the 1958 UND Football team receiving honorary letters stopped it to take a picture. Kofstad says it was a cool moment to have alumni and important people in football history latch onto a new tradition.

“It went even better than expected,” she said about its first appearance.

Erik Hanson, student body president, agreed that seeing the Hawk “soar” was an exciting moment, backed by months of anticipation and behind-the-scenes work. He’s been with the process since the beginning, and says witnessing the game day atmosphere made it all worthwhile.

“It was engaging with the kids, hopefully future Hawks,” Hanson said. “In the later part of the game it was in the student section getting the crowd going – it was appealing to everyone. We hope that same energy will continue to grow with our mascot.”

Athletic Director Bill Chaves says the expressions around him were “wonderful” as The Fighting Hawk was revealed, and that many thanks are in order for the people who made it happen.

“As we continue to enhance traditions at UND, The Fighting Hawk will no doubt play an integral part moving forward,” he said.

After months of behind-the-scenes effort, the Fighting Hawk is ready to bring the hype to UND sporting events. Its next appearance is scheduled for the volleyball team's match against NDSU on Wednesday (Sept. 26). Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

After months of behind-the-scenes effort, The Fighting Hawk is ready to bring the hype to UND sporting events. Its next appearance is scheduled for the volleyball team’s match against NDSU on Wednesday (Sept. 26). Photo by Shawna Schill/UND Today.

More about our Fighting Hawk

According to sources, The Fighting Hawk is an honorary graduate from “Hawkademy” and working on its M.D. (Mascot’s Degree). You can find it soaring, perching and hunting, but mostly cheering on North Dakota Athletics. Its favorite foods are bison burgers, coyote chowder and jackrabbit jerky.

Its favorite pastimes include giving high fives, dancing to the UND fight song and posing for pictures.

The Fighting Hawk regularly frequents the IT department to replace missing computer mice, but you can also find it on North Dakota Cheer & Dance’s socials: @NDspiritsquads on Twitter and Instagram.

It will make its next appearance when Fighting Hawks Volleyball takes on NDSU – Wednesday, Sept. 26, 7:00 p.m. at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.