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October 25, 2002

La Salle University Brings an "Old" Friend Back as
"New" Mascot


The "new" La Salle Explorer mascot made his debut on Saturday, October 26 as he strolled into McCarthy Stadium for the homecoming football game against Duquesne. Twice before, La Salle has used the swashbuckling 17th century French explorer as its mascot. This new version received an enthusiastic reception.
There were two homecomings at La Salle on October 26th - one for its alumni, and a second for an old friend, a "new" mascot who is returning for his 3rd tour of duty at the University, a sword-bearing 17th century swashbuckling French Explorer!

The new mascot made his first appearance that day at McCarthy Stadium before the Explorers football team took the field against Duquesne.
The new version of the Explorer features a mustachioed and goateed face and a costume, including a cape, using the university's colors - dark blue and gold.

"There was strong interest in returning to the idea of a 17th century Explorer," said Dr. Thomas Brennan, Director of Athletics at La Salle. "Last spring, we conducted a survey of students and alumni to gauge their feelings, and more than 90 percent of those surveyed were in favor of changing the mascot, and 70 percent of those wanted to return to the French Explorer."

Overseeing the redesign of the mascot project was a University task force of representatives from alumni, student government, and staff: Joseph Donovan (Chair), Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications; Anna Allen, Assistant Dean of Students; John F. Carabello, DMD, a 1962 La Salle graduate and President, Explorer Club; Peter D'Orazio, Assistant Athletic Director; Jim Gulick, Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations; Ken Hager, a 1958 La Salle graduate who was the school's first cheerleader, and Ricky Palladino, President, Students' Government Association.

A 17th century French Explorer was the school's original mascot, unveiled in 1958. In the early 1960s, the University switched to an "astronaut," as America was in the midst of exploring space with the NASA program. The 17th century Explorer resumed the position of mascot in the early 1970s, until 1998, when a muscular "superhero" look was adopted.

"I like the fact that the new mascot takes us to our roots, to the Explorer," says John F. Carabello, DMD, a 1962 La Salle graduate and task force member. "Having worked with the task force from sketches to even cloth samples, I'm very happy we're back to the original mascot. It's the way people should know La Salle, as the Explorers, and it looks like an explorer."

I hope everybody feels as good as I will when I see him, taking the field. La Salle is back," said Carabello, who is President of La Salle's Explorer Club, a booster organization for the school's athletic programs.

Ricky Palladino, President of the Student Government Association at La Salle and member of the task force, says he was "very much in favor of the new version. It was the only thing applicable to the explorer title that was classy. We did brain storm other ideas to go along with Explorer, but nothing really fit. The best thing was to revert to the traditional model."

Another person happy with the return of the traditional Explorer is Lisa Denton, a 1988 La Salle graduate who was inside the Explorer costume for several years. "Being the school mascot was a lot of fun, especially during the Lionel Simmons era when we had some great seasons and played at some fantastic arenas. Keeping my identity secret on campus was a challenge, but a job I took seriously. I also took part in a Big 5 mascot organization that traveled around to city schools to meet with children who had a love and knowledge of Big 5 basketball that astounded me. They also knew all the mascots and loved interacting with us. I was the only female mascot in the group and always tried my best to hide my gender. Those outings are some of my fondest memories of my time at La Salle."

"I hope returning to the older mascot image will give the current student body a chance to really rally behind their new mascot," said Denton. "It is a symbol of our school spirit and one of which we should be proud."