• Emily Cusack

Before the Comets were Comets

Courtesy Photos

What came before the Comet? The Congregationalists. Yes, Olivet College was known as the Congregationalists prior to 1932. Why did Olivet change its mascot?

Yelling “GO CONGREGATIONALISTS” and “Give me a C! Give me an O! Give me an N!” etc. was quite the mouthful. By 1932, Olivet was ready for a new nickname. To address this problem, on January 13, 1932, the Echo put out the first of many articles inviting students and faculty to add their two-cents by suggesting a nickname.

The college wanted a nickname that “connoted an ‘active, alert moving thing in keeping with the spirit of an athletic team,’” according to the January 21, 1932 Echo article.

According to Scott Sigler ‘91, author of a December 1988 article on the Comet mascot, the college wanted names that hinted towards the rich history and tradition of Olivet and were easy to shout. The article from January 13, 1932, stated that the idea of the name change was sparked by the fact that Alma College changed their nickname from the “Presbyterians” to the much more pronounceable and easier to shout “Scots.”

Along the lines of tradition, the article stated that while names like the “Puritans gives hint to the probable historical fact that the founders of the Congregationalist Church came over on the Mayflower, ... it would make a denominative that students would likely brand ‘lousy.’ So don’t try to submit ‘Puritans.’”

The college wanted something with finesse that spoke of athleticism. Or as they put it in the January 21, 1932 article, “names such as acorns, oaks, and leaves, while they suggest Olivet, would be undesirable terms to embody the militant ardor of athletics.” Oaks was suggested 12 times, according to Sigler’s article, but the judges felt it lacked the qualities of “an athletic team-- action, speed, mobility.”

February 10, 1932, the Echo published the five finalists of the nickname entries: The Reds, the Pioneers, the Vets, the Falcons, and the Comets.

February 24, 1932 Olivet College bid the title “Congregationalist” good bye and became the Olivet College Crimson Comets. The winning name was submitted by then Olivet College senior D. Whitford Davies ‘32. He intended the nickname to be his parting gift to the college. The nickname was “something different in the way of athletic nicknames,” said Sigler’s article, “it fit the theme of speed and action.”

The title “Crimson” was only seen in the 1932 yearbook, according to Marty Jennings ‘67, Director of Alumni Engagement at Olivet College, there were no yearbooks between 1932-1952, so the loss of the title “Crimson” was lost during that period of time.

Even though “Crimson” is long gone, Olivet College still remains the Comets.

Side Bar

Over the years Olivet College has had many unofficial mascots. They ranged in an assortment of animals, mainly dogs, and one sheep. The best known was Jack the dog. Jack, who served as the unofficial sports mascot in 1906, was given a cape with Olivet stitched on the sides to wear to the games. He was such a hit with fans and the teams his image was used on the college postcards.

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