Why a Hawk?
The hawk is a classic bird of prey and one that is physically powerful, much like the Maroon athletes it represents.
Flying high, the hawk symbolizes achievement. Hawks reach speeds up to 150 miles an hour when diving toward prey. Rooney tries to stay within the legal speed limits but admits it can be difficult. The hawk is indigenous to the area and thrives in the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. Hawks are known to mate for life, and some species make long migratory journeys, which is a sign of their stamina and strength.
Rooney is a "Maroon-tailed" hawk, a little known, but clever breed that is found only in the vicinity of the Roanoke College campus.
The Search for the Maroon Mascot
The hawk was selected from more than 350 mascot suggestions submitted by students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the College. Those suggestions were narrowed to the top 6 finalists using guidance from two separate groups. One was the Mascot Team, which was composed of staff, faculty, coaches, students and alumni, and the second was a professional company, whose primary business is athletic mascots and logos.
The top 6 ideas were open to public comment on campus as well as online through Facebook and the RC News Blog. Not only did the hawk received a lot of positive comments from students, alumni, faculty and staff alike, but the hawk also was clearly viewed as a classic mascot choice. Informed by this feedback, the president made the final decision.
Comments Shaped the Final Mascot
The public feedback also was used to improve the initial concept. Chest coloration, wing detail and facial features were designed for maximum differentiation from other avian mascots, such as the HokieBird and Bridgewater Eagle. Facial features were made friendlier-or perhaps slightly mischievous-to address concerns that the original design might scare small children. While the costume was given a friendly expression, the illustrated graphic was made to appear fierce and competitive.
The progression of sketches:
Roanoke Will Always be the Maroons
The addition of a mascot did not change the name Maroons. Roanoke isn't alone in having a mascot that's different from the team name. Other prominent institutions include the UNC Tarheels (ram), Virginia Tech Hokies (turkey), the Miami Hurricanes (ibis) and the Alabama Crimson Tide (elephant).