OBERLIN — Oberlin College athletes will still be known as Yeomen or Yeowomen, but the college has welcomed a new fuzzy mascot to its family of logos.
As of Jan. 1, students will begin seeing more of a white squirrel, which will take the place of many of the traditional athletic logos.
The squirrel was suggested by a swimmer at the college and then quickly adopted after discussions with college officials, according to Delta Lodge Director of Athletics and Physical Education Natalie Winkelfoos.
“We decided how difficult it was to define what a Yeoman actually is,” Winkelfoos said. “In the past, our attempts to illustrate that, it was a challenge.”
The college’s athletic teams have been referred to as the Yeomen or Yeowomen likely since the college’s founding, Winklefoos said. She said the definition of a Yeoman has been argued in the past. The word could mean a person who owns his own land, a British naval officer, or simply, hardworking.
In 2010, the college unveiled another logo — the letters “OC” — in an attempt to provide a simpler design. The logo took approximately two years of planning and later appeared on uniforms, fields, publications and on the college’s website.
Winkelfoos said the school adopted the squirrel mascot, albeit unofficially, during the last few years.
The albino squirrel has been a part of the college’s history dating back to the 1970s. Often found in Tappan Square, the local folklore is that if one sees an albino squirrel on campus, he or she will have good luck.
“If you look around campus, everyone is using the Tappan Square squirrel,” Winklefoos said.
The logo was designed by Jim Ward of Collegiate Branding, who also created the “OC” design. The squirrel logo was designed with a “sense of movement and fierceness” to create an athletic feel to the image, according to a news release from the college.
Winklefoos said anyone who says squirrels are not fierce clearly hasn’t interacted with one.
“A squirrel can be quite ferocious. I don’t trust those things,” she said, laughing. “They’re squirrely for a reason.”
Winklefoos said the design is meant to be fun and a little different. The goal is to connect the athletic department with the rest of campus, she said.
“We will still be the Yeomen and Yeowomen, always and forever,” she said. “(The squirrel) is fun. It’s an option for us.”