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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The iconic St. Joe’s Hawk gets a makeover: New look, same history

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Greg Carroccio
St. Joe’s released a newly updated version of the Hawk to social media on August 25. PHOTO COURTESY OF SJU ATHLETICS

Flapping its wings on the sidelines for nearly 70 years, the St. Joe’s Hawk has become a staple in college athletics, and now has an updated look.

St. Joe’s debuted the Hawk’s makeover via social media on Aug. 25.

“After more than two decades of extensive use, hundreds of thousands of flaps and countless appearances at university activities, community events and alumni weddings, it was time for a refresh,” Jack Jumper ’09, director of athletic communications, wrote in response to written questions from The Hawk. “The Hawk has been updated multiple times in its 68-year history and, after listening to fans through our surveys and personal comments, we decided it was time for a refresh.”

Originated on Dec. 3, 1955 by Jim Brennan ’58, the Hawk has become a nationally recognized symbol for the university. Flapping an estimated 3,500 times per game, the National Collegiate Athletic Association named the Hawk the best college basketball tradition in 2014.

“[When] I was at the first game, I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to be viewed as just a fan watching the game,’” Brennan said. “I had to do something different, so I just started flapping my wings and that’s the tradition.”

At that moment, Brennan did not realize the tradition he had begun.

“I personally never appreciated the fact that it would become a tradition,” Brennan said. “It just meant a lot to me because I was in front of the fans, hopefully inspiring them to root for the team.”

Former Hawk Bobby Gallagher ’98, whose grandfather was responsible for giving St. Joe’s the nickname of “the Hawks” after winning an essay contest in the 1930s, said that despite its different appearance, the history of the Hawk is unchanged.

“It was really important that they made sure that although they wanted to modernize, they tie that back to the traditions, to the history,” Gallagher said.

For Gallagher, part of that history was in the Hawk’s footwear.

“The first thing I looked at, I saw that whoever was in the costume was wearing sneakers,” Gallagher said. “To me, that’s the Hawk.”

What aspects of the costume stayed and what changed was part of a bigger collaborative effort. St. Joe’s collaborated with Street Characters, a mascot designing business, in order “to blend traditional aspects of previous Hawk costumes with newer attributes that allow for durability and functionality,” Jumper said.

“Along with the customary brown tail and legs, the Hawk features a new-look wingspan that showcases the iconic flapping, along with a vivid and photogenic face,” Jumper wrote. “One of the overriding factors for the change was that the feathers on the suit were becoming harder and harder to procure and maintain.”

The new featherless wingspan has received mixed reviews from the St. Joe’s community and even from former Hawks.

“I thought the way that they put the wings, the wings kind of have this glimmer, and it looked pretty cool,” Gallagher said. “I thought they did a nice job.”

The “Alpha Hawk,” as Brennan calls himself, was not as impressed.

“I like the concept of what the Hawk does, but to me, when I saw the new Hawk, I didn’t see feathers on it, which I regretted, and it looked like a velour blanket was thrown over the Hawks shoulders,” Brennan said. “If there were feathers on it, I would love that costume. I would love it dearly, but I have mixed emotions on it.”

Despite the differing opinions on the look of the new suit, Matt Kirchgasser ’24, the current Hawk for women’s basketball, and Michael Sorochen ’25, the Hawk for women’s basketball, have found that there are benefits for the wearer.

“It comes with some added bonuses, like our hands get put away in a pocket and then they can pop out,” Kirchgasser said. “We’re definitely getting used to it. I think we can do more with it.”

Kirchgasser, who was also the women’s basketball Hawk last season, is familiar with both the old and new suits.

“The fabric and material obviously feels different on you, and also the weight, but all in all, I think it feels good,” Kirchgasser said. “It’s a more complete flap in the new suit.”

He hopes that as people become more familiar with the new look they will become more fond of it as well.

“I feel like a lot of people are reluctant to accept new things,” Kirchgasser said. “I anticipate that within the next season, predicting that the women’s and men’s teams do well, which I’m very confident they will, I think people are going to warm up to it quickly and embrace it.”

But no matter its look, the Hawk will continue to write its history one flap at a time, while carrying a seven-decade tradition on its wings and capturing the reason behind St. Joe’s motto: “The Hawk Will Never Die.”

“The costume changes, the traditions don’t change, the history doesn’t change,” Gallagher said.

The Hawk in 2020 with the first ever Hawk, Jim Brennan ’58. PHOTO: LUKE MALANGA ’20
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Mia Messina
Mia Messina, Sports Editor
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