By Scott Rudie
The teams that are known as the Wolves today have had several
other names throughout the years, representing an evolutionary process to find
a nickname with the most appropriate fit.
In the early days of intramurals and club sports, the teams
had a wide range of monikers, including the Hotspots and the Red Rockets. When
men’s basketball started in 1971, the team’s nickname, the Red Devils, resulted
from a school-wide vote. However, former president and Chancellor Sister Camille Kliebhan, OSF, Ph.D. recalled one Sister’s
vocal opposition to that choice, for reasons that seem obvious today.
Her opposition proved prophetic, as in 1982 the Red Devils changed
to the Crusaders, again via a school-wide vote. So, while the association of
athletics to the devil ended, the school replaced it with something the campus gradually
recognized as “too militant,” according to former president Sister Mary Lea Schneider, OSF, Ph.D.
“It was okay until the actual mascot showed up, and looked
like someone who would take your head off,” she said with a laugh. “We decided
we wanted to be a bit more peaceful in our nickname, and there also was no
vested interest in keeping the Crusaders, either.”
In 2001, another campus-wide vote determined the current
nickname. Even though the Storm and the Saints proved quite popular as
alternatives, the Wolves emerged as the favorite, in no small measure due to
its connection to the Franciscan legend of the wolf of Gubbio. In the
Franciscan tradition, the ferocious wolf terrorized the Italian community of
Gubbio before St. Francis approached it with love and turned it into a friend.
Sister Mary Lea felt pleased with the symbolism.
“The Wolves just kind of naturally came to the forefront,”
she said. “There were no issues or problems. Everybody was happy with it.”