The Mascot Changes
In the very first years of its existence, Truett-McConnell College did not have any sports teams, but during the 1951-52 year, a men’s basketball team and a baseball team were organized by Jack Holcomb, using the facilities of the Cleveland High School.
The teams were called the Mountaineers, as a reflection of the beautiful area in which the school is located and a reflection as well of the fact that virtually all of the players were young men from the local area in the mountains. The teams were known as the Mountaineers until 1965.
At that time, the name of the college was changed from Truett-McConnell Junior College to Truett-McConnell College, dropping the “junior” designation and paving the way for the college to carry its new name into a four-year status at some time in the future. In keeping with the change in the college’s name, the process was begun of changing the mascot and the name of the sports teams
In 1966 the basketball team (the baseball team had been discontinued by that time) became known by a new name, the Great Danes (or its shortened form, the Danes). The name was chosen because it implied power, authority, majesty. The college had a live mascot, a black Great Dane, whose name was Mr. Great. The school built a special doghouse for him behind the Sewell-Plunkett Chapel, constructed of brick with white columns, resembling the President’s Home on the campus. Eventually the Great Dane died and was not replaced with another live mascot.
In 1974 the college started a women’s basketball team and called it the Danettes, a feminine version of the name Danes. The team was known by this name during the years of its championship teams in the 1970s and 1980s until the early 1990s, when the name was changed to Lady Danes to make the team’s name consistent with the designations of the women’s teams from other colleges.
When the baseball program at Truett-McConnell was revived in the mid-1980s, the baseball team became known as the Diamond Danes, and, when the soccer teams were started, they were called the Kickin’ Danes.
In the same way that a change of mascot and team names marked the transition of the college from Truett-McConnell Junior College to simply Truett-McConnell College in the mid-1960s, now as the institution is making the transition from a two-year to a four-year college, it was felt that a change of mascot and team names would be appropriate.
Beginning in 2004, the college actively solicited ideas from faculty, staff, students, the community, and alumni. Several suggested that the new team names should be reflective of the area of northeast Georgia where the school is located. Finally the selection process narrowed the options until the bear was chosen as the mascot.
The bear is native to the northeast Georgia mountains and even lends its name to the name of White County’s most significant natural landmark, Mt.Yonah. In fact, Yonah is the Cherokee Indian word meaning “bear.”
So as the Truett-McConnell Bears and Lady Bears take to the courts and playing fields this fall, they represent a past that is rich with tradition and replete with accomplishment, but they represent as well an institution that is maturing and changing into a four-year college and which will build years of success upon the solid foundation laid by the memorable teams of former years.Return to News Archive