Nathan Zimmerman –
“First Down, Blueboys!”
If you ever attended an Illinois College football game, you have probably heard this phrase exclaimed by the enthusiastic announcer. However, something was missing — something crucial for school spirit and representation.
Where were the Blueboy/Ladyblue mascots?
Maybe a more pressing question is, “What is a Blueboy?“ For those that do not know, the Blueboy refers to the Union soldiers of the Civil War and the Lady Blue represents a woman of the Civil War in the old-fashioned hoop skirt and bonnet.
The entire IC class of 1863 had enlisted in the Civil War. As a result, classes had been suspended then started again when the soldiers began coming home. The use of the term ‘Blueboys’ began in 1931 in order to honor this part of IC history. “Lady Blues” started being used for the female athletic teams in the 1970s and 80s.
Last year, the mascots were questioned as perhaps overstaying their welcome here at Illinois College. Reasons included a polarizing, discriminatory allure a Blueboy and Lady Blue may have on the female athletes, ambiguity for not really knowing what a Blueboy or Lady Blue is, and marketing issues for trying to create the mascot into a strong image for the college.
There have been a few suggestions for a new Illinois College mascot. These, as stated in a Rambler article last year, include the Blue Coats, Blue Jackets, Fighting Blues, Blue Herons, Conductors, and the Hilltoppers, among others.
However, the administration may be finding itself in a peculiar position right now with trying to come up with a solution. It has been discussed that the College’s many alumni may not be very taken with the notion of a mascot change, whereas there is a mixed message from the current student body.
For the alumni, IC is where they went to school and made wonderful memories as Blueboys and Lady Blues; they take great pride in their alma mater, as well as its past and traditions. For the present-day or future students, especially athletes, a school with a confusing or misutilized mascot may in fact dissuade them from attending due to the ambiguity.
How can an academic institution facilitate and please the desires of both past, present, and future students of Illinois College?
Students of today and years ago are all imperative to the success of an institution of higher learning. By providing students with a great education, they are prepared both mentally and psychologically to take on and become successful in the world. However, students of yesteryears contribute generously to their alma mater especially when they have helped them become as successful as they are.
Therefore, here we see the current predicament. This is also a peculiar situation for such donations for the college. Should the college upset those that attend in the past and contribute today, or suffer through more years of declining enrollment numbers while still not knowing the best way to portray and visually represent the school?
My thoughts? Let’s utilize the mascot that we currently have.
Bring out the Blueboy and Lady Blue mascots that have been hibernating in the basement of Bruner. I would love to see our mascot at the different sporting events that we have on campus, and take pride in what both the Blueboy and Lady Blue represent.
Both mascots were extremely valuable during that time of conflict in the 1800s. Allow myself and my peers to feel proud of where we go, who we are, and that there is no better school in the midwest than that of where the Fighting Blueboys and Lady Blues reside.
Change is good, yes. However, knowing how to effectively and efficiently utilize the resources at our disposal today can help push back the unnecessary change of tomorrow. Let’s use what we have to the best of our abilities and feel proud in what meaning lies behind what we have.
Nathan A. Zimmerman, from Mt. Sterling, Illinois, is a senior majoring in Finance and Economics with a minor in Political Science. In addition to the Rambler, Nathan is a board member of both Brown County and Action Brown County, executive director of the nonprofit Real Deal Finance, vice president of the Illinois College Democrats, the president of Gamma Nu Literary Society, and the Illinois College representative for the Clinton Global Initiative University network.