The Griffin -- one-third eagle, one-third lion and, according to this mythical creature, one third amazing -- burst into Kaplan Arena as the new Tribe mascot and immediately led hundreds of William & Mary students, faculty, staff and alumni and staff members into its very first cheer. Of course it was "T-R-I-B-E Tribe!"
The mascot was welcomed into the William & Mary family during a pep rally event led by Tribal Fever founder Chase Hathaway '10 and Student Assembly President Sarah Rojas ‘10. Later, Athletics Director Terry Driscoll and Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler spoke before the mascot selection was revealed in a video starring William & Mary President Taylor Reveley.
In the video, Reveley is in his office deliberating over the different mascot finalists. One idea after another drops out of contention. Then, the president has an epiphany as he considers one final selection. He grabs his phone and announces, "Get me the Griffin."
Driscoll followed the video by introducing the Griffin as William & Mary's new mascot. A spotlight was shown on a curtain on stage, and after a few moments during which nothing happened, Driscoll disappeared behind the curtain and came out holding only green and gold feathers, a wink to the former Tribe athletics logo that was banned by the NCAA in 2006. Deciding that the Griffin wanted a warm welcome before appearing, Driscoll dispatched Hathaway, known for his towel waving at sporting events, to the second level of the arena to perform his trademark cheer.
As Hathaway began, the Griffin appeared and led the crowd in spelling out Tribe before making its way through the crowd giving fans high-fives and greeting cheerleaders, the pep band and members of the press.
On stage, the Griffin wordlessly answered some questions - including what kind of eagle it is (bald). He then led the crowd in another cheer of "Let's go, Tribe!" and showcased some of his dancing before finally indicating it was time to leave.
"I'm sorry. The mascot has to leave," said Driscoll. "It has a class -- at mascot school."
Though the mascot left the building, the crowd was able to leave with a likeness of it. Buttons bearing the mascot's image were given out at the door as fans left.
Hathaway said that he was glad that the school finally has a mascot.
"It's going to be awesome with the Tribe and it's going to bring a lot of school spirit and lots of pride to our school," he said.
Tuesday's big announcement follows a 14-month search for a new mascot. In February of 2009, Reveley appointed Driscoll to chair a committee of alumni, students, faculty and staff to conduct a comprehensive search for the new Tribe mascot. The idea was to find a unifying symbol for campus and something people could have fun with. Following more than 800 submitted ideas - including more than 300 unique ideas from Tribe faithful, the committee narrowed the finalists to the Griffin, the King and Queen, the Phoenix, a Pug and the Wren.
The final selection had been a secret until Tuesday's event at William & Mary Hall. Shortly after the announcement was made, Reveley put out a message to the College community to let them know "the Griffin has joined the Tribe."
"Its arrival brings William & Mary a mascot that unites strength and intelligence, recalls our royal origins and speaks to our deep roots in American history. With the body of a British lion and the head of an American bald eagle, this mythical creature commands attention. It is an inspiring figure, not least of all for its glorious green & gold feathers."
The new mascot, and its feathered costume also seemed to be a hit with the more than 600 people in attendance at the rally.
"The Griffin is very endearing, playful and great for school spirit," said Wendy Livingston '03, senior assistant dean of admission.
Kia Butts '05, an alumna who now works as an assistant dean of admission, used to play basketball for the Tribe.
"As a former William & Mary athlete, I am happy that we now have a mascot to run up and down the sidelines at games," she said.
Jake Saunders '11, agreed.
"The Griffin is great! It's tougher than the Pug or the Wren," he said. "It's going to be a nice addition to the sidelines."
Rojas said she was delighted to see people so excited about the new mascot.
"The Griffin was one of the concepts that everyone was really excited about," she said. "Making it public was a great thing to be a part of. Again, we'll always be the Tribe, but having the Griffin on the sideline will be something to be proud of."
As to whether she thought it would bring more people out to Tribe athletic events, Rojas responded, ""Did you see how cute that thing was? Yes."
Christina Bullock '10 and Isshin Teshima '11 contributed to this story