By Mary Duncan
As part of Missouri Southern State University’s 75th anniversary celebration, the school’s mascot will get a new look and perhaps a new name.
Potential names for the lion are Roary, Lenny, Leo and Luke, with the current name, Larry, also in the running. Before it was Larry, the mascot was known as Joe Juco, in honor of Joplin Junior College.
Roary is a name that was recommended by fans on Southern’s Facebook page.
“It’s a good opportunity for us, during the 75th anniversary of the university, to roll out a new mascot with a new name. It will be a fresh look,” said Aaron Lewis, assistant athletic director of marketing and corporate sales. He is overseeing the mascot project.
Voting, which has been going on for a couple of weeks, ends Thursday. The votes are counted on the MSSU athletics Web page at www.mssulions.com, which also is where people can go to vote.
On Monday afternoon, with nearly 390 votes cast, Leo was leading with 43 percent of all votes, followed by Roary. Luke was the least popular choice, with 5 percent of the votes. Larry had 9 percent.
The new costume and name will debut Friday at the homecoming picnic, and will be at the homecoming parade and football game on Saturday.
“The current look of the costume needed to be updated, and we also wanted something that could stay cool for whoever was wearing it,” Lewis said.
Johnny Boyer, a junior at MSSU, said he likes the idea of revamping the lion. “I think it fits really well with the 75th anniversary,” he said. “I like the name Roary best.”
Jarrod Pace, a 2012 Southern graduate, said he favors the name Lenny.
While some welcome the change, others favor preserving tradition.
“Changing the mascot’s name, to me, is unnecessary,” said Caravana Randall, a freshman. “We’d be losing a valuable piece of MSSU history. Why should we change something that’s not broken?”
“I would keep the name the same to preserve the traditions of MSSU,” said William Delehanty, an assistant professor of political science. “Changing the name of our mascot has the potential to alter our collegiate identity, and I think keeping our name the same helps to also preserve what it means to engage in athletic competition at MSSU.”
Kristen Livingston, assistant professor of communications, said she likes the name Larry best.
“However, whatever name the beloved lion receives will be welcomed,” she said.
The university is encouraging people to cast their votes before Thursday.
“Students can take ownership in this process and help name the future mascot for Missouri Southern,” Lewis said. “This mascot serves as a representation of all things Missouri Southern, and reflects the enthusiasm that students, faculty and staff have for their institution.”
THE NEW COSTUME for the Missouri Southern State University mascot will contain a cooling vest designed to keep the wearer comfortable. The costume was created by Street Characters for $8,000, according to Aaron Lewis, assistant athletic director of marketing and corporate sales.