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Valparaiso finally has a mascot, or shall we say, mascots.
Meet Beacon and Blaze, imagery that will be officially unveiled by the school on Monday morning.
The introduction of the mascots will cap off a 550-day stretch where Valparaiso dropped Crusaders on Feb. 11, 2021 and then adopted Beacons as the new nickname six months later. The school went without a mascot for the 2021-22 school year.
Beacon is a Golden Retriever and Blaze is a Chocolate Lab and their backstory will include some personality traits. For example, Beacon doesn’t bark unless prompted and dislikes squirrels (the former mascot of Indiana State). Blaze loves nachos and dislikes cats, particularly those from Northern Iowa.
The mascots were partially inspired by George Kumnick, a dog that lived on Valparaiso’s campus from 1937-47. George was found on the doorstep of Altruria Hall and was adopted by Professor H.H. Kumnick, a faculty member of the Religion Department. Prof. Kumnick was the dorm director at Lembke Hall and George came to live with the family and attended many of Prof. Kumnick’s classes.
George passed away in 1947 and is buried on Valparaiso’s old campus. It is considered good luck for Valparaiso students to kiss George’s headstone before exams.
Valparaiso will continue to use brown and gold as the primary school colors as well as the “Shield of Character” logo. Other imagery will continued to be used, including the V logo with a flame in the middle as well as the lighthouse logo. For example, Blaze is wearing a jacket with the lighthouse logo. The expectation is that the two mascots will debut later this fall in costume form.
Beacon and Blaze will join a family of mascots in the Missouri Valley Conference which includes Bruiser the Bruin (Belmont), Kaboom! (Bradley), Spike (Drake), Ace Purple (Evansville), Sparky D. Dragon (UIC), Reggie Redbird (Illinois State), Sycamore Sam (Indiana State), Boomer and Growl (Missouri State), Dunker (Murray State), Brown Dawg and Gray Dawg (Southern Illinois) and TC Panther and TK Panther (Northern Iowa).
Beacon and Blaze will also join the history of Valparaiso’s mascots that date back to when the Uhlan was adopted as the school nickname in 1931. The Uhlans were in place for 10 years before the school moved away from the nickname and eventually adopted the Crusaders in 1941. The mascot, at least to the knowledge of The Victory Bell, was never given a name besides “The Valpo Crusader.” The mascot underwent various iterations, including a “live” version which saw longtime university archivist Mel Doering wearing chain mail while riding a horse. The cartoon version of the Crusader arrived in the mid-1990’s and it eventually gave way to the covered Crusader in 2010.
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(Beacon and Blaze imagery and Valparaiso logos provided by Valpo Athletics. Valley mascots pulled directly from Google Search It’s a wonderful tool.)
Edit: This story has been edited from the emailed version to update a note about Beacon and Blaze as well as to correct the spelling of Altruria Hall.
Feeling bummed. I was really hoping it would be something unique and different. Just be bold with something that is not like so many other mascots.
Very disappointed we have to be represented by some dumb animals that have nothing to do with us, our name, tradition, etc.— Ugh. Was hoping we could somehow remain unique. 😩