You have undoubtedly seen them scurrying across campus, acting more child-like than animal-like. You’ve probably tried to pet them with little success. You have more than likely had one-sided conversations with them. (Okay maybe that was just me?) And you have probably even tried to feed them your Taco Bell during a late night walk through campus. (Just me again?) You know who I am talking about: the squirrels of the Augustana campus.
What if you were actually closer to these beloved furry friends than you thought?
After the retirement of the Augie Doggie mascot in 2003, students were without a leader for about six years until the college introduced Ole, our current mascot, in 2009. Until now, it has been a mystery as to who or what is actually under the giant Viking head.
The news came via text from Rob Oliver.
“GET READY TO GO NUTS, squirrels are behind Ole.”
After discovering the news, we did some digging and found out one of the professors on campus coaches the little creatures. The person agreed to meet with us, but requested to remain anonymous. We will give you a hint though. She teaches yoga, and her name rhymes with Yancy Hickenson.
The squirrel trainer confirmed the rumor, and took us to the room in which they train. These squirrels take their job very seriously. Rows of miniature treadmills line the room. There is a practice mat with special tape markings that signify where each squirrel is to stand; a large list with different routines, chants and dances; and the Ole costume proudly hung up in the closet.
The squirrel trainer invited us back to secretly watch a pre-game warm up. The squirrels’ sipped on a few brewskis (like a true Augieholic) and in unison chanted, “We are Ole the Augustana mascot! We walnut fail to be the best we can be!”
They then hopped on top of one another into the mascot costume and headed to the student section to pump the crowd up.
Student reactions to the news have been quite positive.
“I have expected for a long time that Augie has been harboring these squirrels for something big,” junior Matt Stoffel said. “The fact that it didn’t end up involving a Squirrel Power Rangers team is heavily disappointing, but at least this is cooler than bigger cups in the commons.”
According to the trainer, squirrels communicate with each other through various sounds.
“The most common communication sound amongst squirrels is whistling,” she said.
So now when you’re at any Augustana sporting event and your surrounded by hooping, hollering, and whistling, know that those whistling noises probably aren’t coming from the drunk Augieholic a few rows back. It’s actually the squirrels letting each other know what move is next.
Let us all relish in the fact that our school mascot is made up by small bushy-tailed animals. Let’s see the college down the street have something as cool as a squirrel-run mascot.