Rocky, The Pride of The Rock, debuted at SRU in 2007. Many people cannot wrap their heads around the idea that our mascot is a lion, so let me break it down for you:
Our mascot at Slippery Rock University is Rocky the Lion. Our mascot is a lion because our sports teams are called the Slippery Rock Pride. A group of lions is called a pride. Naturally, Rocky the mascot makes sense merely for that fact, but there is more behind the name than that.
To further justify why our mascot is a lion, we have to look at the tradition of pride at Slippery Rock university. Both pride in the university as a whole and particularly in its athletic tradition. So when deciding to change the mascot from Rocky version one, who was a literal rock (like a boulder, a big gray stone, could be classified as igneous, metamorphic or sedimentary, you know where I’m going with this) was there really any question that we need a better mascot? Who in the world would take a team seriously who had a rock dancing around to cheer them on? Who would be intimidated by that? The correct answer here is nobody.
I’m going to take us outside the PSAC for a minute, and look to high school athletics mascots. I’m thinking of one school in western Pa. in particular, whose mascot is a fighting berry. I’m looking at you Cranberry High School in Seneca, Pa. (I apologize to any of you who graduated from there, a fighting berry could be a very formidable foe in the correct situation, right?) In any event, who takes a fighting berry seriously without joking about it? No one. And who would take a rock named Rocky seriously either?
So when we changed to the new and improved Rocky, of course it not only made for a better mascot, but it also encompasses the ideals we represent here at our university. According to the web page dedicated to Rocky on our website, “the new Rocky gives Slippery Rock University an original mascot that represents the pride, originality and the look of Slippery Rock University with honor. Rocky’s green highlights, gray colors and the overall appearance are derived from all of the Rocky mascots and truly represent the pride shared by all at Slippery Rock University.”
So when designing the new mascot, the university didn’t forget about our past traditions of pride, they incorporated them into something new, a more powerful symbol for the university than ever before. How can we go back to a rock after that?
I bet you didn’t know that Rocky is a Sport Management major with a Geology minor, and his hobbies include going to Rock Athletic events, reading The Rocket (thanks Rocky!), and listening to Rock N’ Roll. That just adds even more to his character.
Ultimately, Rocky the Lion makes for a great mascot because he best represents our tradition of pride, he encompasses the symbolic past of the university, and mostly, he isn’t a dancing boulder. He is here to stay; despite the ‘rocks’ supporters of the old mascot might throw.