Dec. 2, 2006
By Emily G. Pambianchi
The Saint Joseph's University mascot, The Hawk, has become one of the most renowned college mascots across the nation. The Hawk has graced covers of sports magazines, has been captured on television, and can always been seen flapping its wings on and off the basketball court. SJU junior Jim Miller will be the man under the heavy, feathered suit for the 2006-2007 season, becoming the 30th student to serve this role.
"Everything's working out well, so far," says Miller. His arms aren't too sore from flapping yet. He began his position as the Hawk in May 2006 and has been working events ranging from publicity appearances, to graduation parties, to charity events before basketball season began. "I am not sure if this happens on purpose, but each event seems to get longer, which helps you gain strength," he says about the stamina required to keep up the flapping. The Hawk mascot is required to flap during all public appearances, emitting the motto of SJU, "The Hawk Will Never Die." He is also known to fly in figure eights around the basketball court during timeouts! The Hawk keeps movement during his appearances and exemplifies the school motto diligently.
Miller knew he wanted to try out for the Hawk before he ever came to SJU. Being a local high school student, he watched the Hawk during basketball games and found the role of the mascot intriguing. When he attended high school at Malvern Prep, a teacher advised him to "try to become the Hawk because he didn't want me to regret not doing it," while in college. Miller stepped foot on campus in 2004 and began to work with the basketball team as a manager, hoping for the role when the Hawk was being played by a graduating senior and someone new would need to take over. "A lot of people think I won a flap-off or something to become the Hawk, but there was nothing like that," Miller explains. He applied for the position just like it was a coveted job, writing an essay on why he wanted to be the Hawk. He interviewed with the former Hawks and the selection committee and eventually found out he had been accepted for the highly touted position.
Obviously, he was excited and began his role immediately, commencing with the appearances during the summer. "It's awesome to be the symbol for the team and for the entire school," comments Miller, "and I've been able to meet incredible people." Miller was thrilled to meet Jim Brennan, the first Hawk mascot and the man who dreamed of SJU having a mascot. "He had some fantastic stories," says Miller, "and he's writing a book that will include memories from former Hawks."
The Hawk mascot is incredibly unique in that it is the only mascot allowed to travel with the team across the nation. The coaches and team treat him like a member and he is there just as much as they are! Miller is a manager for the team and travels to each game, practice, and appearance with them. "Seeing the nation, traveling with the team across the country, meeting people, watching how the team works, these are the great parts about the job," says Miller. He manages to find the time to balance his public administration major and the job as one of the most famous mascots in the nation, as well as still referee local PIAA and CYO basketball games. "It is time consuming, but it's my job, and I love it," Miller explains.