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Who let the wolves out?

December 12th, 2013

As part of the John Carroll University seal, wolves have always been a large part of the JCU identity. Live wolves at football games and an on-campus bar called the Wolf and Pot are just some of the ways that the wolf was an integral part of the JCU tradition in years past. The seal of JCU is an adaptation of the Loyola family coat of arms which features two shields, one with two wolves with a pot in between them and another with diagonal stripes. The meaning of the two wolves and the pot has symbolism that ties into the mission of JCU and the Jesuits.

“It was said of the Ignatian family that they were so generous that after everyone was fed, there was still enough in the pot for the wolves,” said Peter Bernardo, senior director of Philanthropic Relations at JCU. “The ‘Lobo Y Olla’ is Spanish for wolf and pot. However, in the Basque it means a place of fertile ground; both are great models for JCU.”

The two wolves are the mascots of JCU, a male and female named Lobo and Lola, respectively, and the University used to rent a pair of wolves for sports games and pep rallies for $150 a semester from a man in Richfield, Ohio.

“At Homecoming we would fence them in [by the football field],” said Bernardo. “They were very friendly, you could pet them and everything. He would bring them out here and people would ask about him and the wolves and he would sell pups. We have had them for a long time and we used them mostly for football.”

The wolves stayed in their pen and they were fairly well adjusted to having people around. The only thing the wolves did not like was when JCU’s mascot, which looked somewhat like Disney’s “Big Bad Wolf,”came on to the field.

“The wolves would go to the other side of their pen and kind of shy away and shake. They really did not like our mascot,” said Bernardo.

The wolves disappeared as mascots briefly after Bernardo changed positions in 1998 from alumni director to working in the Office of Development.

“The new alumni director was not big on wolves, so the wolves left and then we had a period when the wolves were forgotten,” said Bernardo. “Then Mary Lavin came on board [in 2007] and she worked with the alumni board and brought it back.”

The Blue Streaks’ name came from a Plain Dealer reporter in the 1930s who said that the football team “ran around like Blue Streaks,” noting the color of the uniforms. The name stuck, and JCU students have been known as the Blue Streaks ever since, but they never lost the wolf as a symbol.

Not only did the University as a whole adopt the wolf, but various organizations took ownership of the symbol as well. Bernardo used to be a professor of military science, and when the Brigade for ROTC visited, they said that they wanted everyone to adopt a moniker of some sort. Bernardo, knowing the significance of the wolf to JCU, submitted “the wolfpack” for the ROTC program.

Stefano Deleidi, a JCU student who was part of ROTC, designed the Wolfpack Battalion symbol.

John J. McCluskey, assistant professor of military science, said that the wolfpack name will stay as long as the current JCU logo stays. While there are plans to work on rebranding themselves as “Cleveland’s Army ROTC Battalion,” the mascot name will be maintained.

The wolves were also integrated into locations on campus, such as the former Wolf and Pot bar. The student-run bar was located where the Inn Between is now.

Up until 1982, Ohio law allowed 18-year-olds to drink beer with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent, which the Wolf and Pot served. Student Union ran the bar and was able to keep any profit they made after buying food and beer and paying the employees.

“We had 3.2 percent beer on campus and the students gathered at the Wolf and Pot and it used to be a roaring place,” said Bernardo. “It also served sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers. They would have music and show football and basketball games. It was lot of fun.”

Current students say that they have not noticed a strong tie to the wolf at JCU. Both sophomore Christian Brandetsas and senior Alex Cavasini said they have noticed the wolves, but have not identified any strong connection between JCU and wolves.

But students said that the wolf made sense as a part of JCU’s identity.

“We stay together. Even after graduation, wandering from the pack, we are still and always will be one pack because no one is ever let go from the JCU community,” said Brandetsas.

“I think the wolf symbol says that JCU has strong, motivated students who go for what they want,” said Cavasini.

Bernardo said that the wolf is an important tradition at JCU and is something that the University community can rally around.

“You have to instill a spirit and tradition in your people, because they won’t stick together unless you do,” said Bernardo. “You have to instill in them a sense of tradition so that they don’t want to let down. You will find that when times get tough and the chips are down, that is what holds the team together. You have to create a tradition. You have to create a spirit.”