WHAT’S YOUR OPINION? Submit a Letter to the Editor here
Sign up for our daily newsletter here
CHAMPAIGN — The kingfisher has made its first appearance at a University of Illinois homecoming parade, but alumni weren’t all in favor.
An antique tractor driven by the originator of the mascot design, Spencer Wilken, led the pack with the bird close behind, flapping its wings and running to the crowd for high fives.
Rob Avery, a 1986 graduate, kept his dissent simple: “Back the Chief!”
Jim Anderson, a 1975 grad, said the same, because he hasn’t been happy with any of the proposed mascots.
“I would love to have the Chief back,” Anderson said. “I grew up with the Chief, and it’s a piece of U of I history I would hate to see pass.”
The kingfisher team said they mostly saw excited students along the route, but they got some love from faculty and staff and even saw some handmade kingfisher signs in the crowd.
Rebecca Brooks isn’t an alumna, but she lives in the community and came out for the parade.
She grew up in Massachusetts and saw the University of Massachusetts Amherst transition from the Redskins to Sam the Minuteman.
“There wasn’t this lingering void,” Brooks said. “I think they need a new mascot, whether it’s the kingfisher or the otter or something else.”
Many other alumni are not interested in having their names on record in relation to the mascot debate but are generally in support of bringing back the Chief.
The kingfisher team say they’re hearing otherwise on campus: Multiple academic departments have allegedly told the team they will unveil new kingfisher logos in the next few weeks.
The bird has also been adopted as mascot for the men’s and women’s hockey teams and women’s rugby. Those are all club teams, so they don’t have to align with the athletic department.