By Jubenal Aguilar
The Brookhaven Bears – it’s a name most Brookhaven College students, staff and faculty are familiar with. But the campus mascot may have never had a name of its own to begin with.
Brookhaven has two very different mascot costumes. The first is an old, ferocious grizzly bear, the likes of which has been seen in movies such as “The Edge” or “The Revenant.” Fitting the might of Brookhaven’s athletic teams, the Bear is exactly what anyone would expect from a college mascot.
The other mascot is a lighter, tan-colored teddy-bear-looking thing with a face only a mother could love. Its big dilated eyes stare into the void, looking deep into the souls of those who dare cross its path.
But few even know the bears exist because they make rare appearances at major campus events. However, the Campus Activity Board intends to give one or both bears more exposure, Candace Williams, student programs development coordinator, said.
After a public vote in March, a name was selected in an attempt to engage Brookhaveans in community civic activism and to promote school spirit, Fernando Sanchez, Brookhaven Student Government Association president, said.
SGA spearheaded the campaign, Williams said. Williams, who leads the new student orientations, began her journey at Brookhaven in August 2016.
“What I kept finding myself saying during orientation was: ‘The Bear. The Bear. The Bear,’ and I was like, ‘This bear doesn’t have a name,’” Williams said. “Finally, I asked, ‘Does the Bear have a name?’”
That was the answer to William’s question, she said.
Sanchez said, “Candace one day comes in, and she tells us, ‘Our Bear needs a name, and I would love Breezy.’”
Williams said she liked the name because she thinks it is cute. “It starts with a ‘B,’ and it has to do with the windmill – the wind, the breeze.”
Breezy is a fitting homage to the windmill constructed in the Commons Courtyard and taken down because of safety concerns in the 1980s.
Sanchez said approximately 70 students voted for the name Breezy from a list of three finalists. The other finalists were Grizz-Lee and Articus. Sanchez said Articus was a close second after Breezy.
According to a campuswide email from the Office of Planning, Research and Institutional Effectiveness, Brookhaven had 12,650 students enrolled Feb. 7. That means the fate of the Brookhaven Bear fell in the hands of 0.55 percent of the student body.
So, who is Breezy?
Breezy, the grizzlier of the two mascot costumes, is a dark-furred bear with an open mouth and exposed teeth.
Williams said that was the Bear she sought a name for because it is the one in all of Brookhaven’s promotional materials including a video by Brookhaven President Thom Chesney. Other appearances of the now-Breezy include a 2013 Harlem Shake video by The Courier staff and a recent film by Film Club members.
However, Breezy had at least two other identities – Brookie and Teddy. Brookie was the name in cartoons by alumnus Tony Baker, an illustrator for The Courier, between 1991-1993. Teddy appeared once as the Bear’s name in a cartoon by alumnus Mike McNulty in a 1994 issue of The Courier.
Whether these names were official or not is unknown.
Sarah Ferguson, executive dean of educational resources, said she was unable to find concrete information in the archives of other Brookhaven publications.
However, before we were the Brookhaven Bears, we were the Brookhaven Pioneers. The original mascot was mysteriously changed in the late 1980s.
But exactly how did the change from Pioneers to Bears happen?
A good question, for another time.
All that is known from The Courier’s archives is that the official change happened in November 1989 and Elijah Turner, an alumnus, was the mascot during the transition. Other archived articles show that only one in 23 students could identify Brookhaven’s mascot prior to the change.
Maybe it’s fitting we have two mascots. After all, when the Bear arrived at Brookhaven, it did so through two borrowed teddy bear heads from North Lake College.
As for the dopey bear?
“Collectively as an office, we named [him] Snuggles because he looks like the Snuggles bear,” Williams said.
There appears to be no intention to officially name the dopey bear Snuggles, at least for now. But, if there was a vote, I would like to officially submit my nomination – Teddy McBearface.