Traditions are a large part of what brings students together at Longwood University, and these traditions show up in different ways. Even though mascots play their part to symbolize tradition and spirit in many schools across the nation, Elwood’s role unites the campus community through the importance of history and spirit.
Larry Robertson, Assistant Vice President of Student Development, described how Elwood’s impact has changed over time: “I think there is a lot more excitement around Elwood than initially. When they see Elwood at a ball game or they see Elwood walk across campus, there’s a lot more there.”
Before the now well-known Elwood stepped into the picture, Longwood had another mascot named Lance back in the early 1990s. This mascot didn’t last very long and slowly disappeared from sight and memory, which eventually led to the school deciding to create a new one as they had just entered Division 1 Athletics at the time.
When figuring out what the mascot for Longwood would be, there were two choices: one was a piece of wood set on fire and the other was Elwood. According to Robertson, there was never a large debate on which choice appealed to students and faculty more.
As ideas for Elwood expanded, more detail was put into how the mascot would be and what it would look like. “There was a lot of excitement about what Elwood would look like. I think there was a lot of thought put into Elwood, probably more thought than with other mascots,” Robertson mentioned.
Elwood embodies the ideals of what being a Lancer means to everyone on campus as well as the spirit of Longwood University itself. The look of Elwood accomplishes this in multiple ways.
For instance, the main color scheme of the mascot is navy blue, grey, and white, which are the school colors. Longwood’s history is also connected due to the 18 on the front of his navy blue jersey and the 39 on the back to show the year that the university was founded, 1839. In addition, Elwood wears red and green wristbands to represent the two class colors for students.
Robertson also brought up the element of secrecy that surrounds Elwood, remarking on how it’s one of many Longwood traditions that are kept a secret. Often, students sit together and wonder about who Elwood could be or if they know someone that has the potential to be the beloved mascot, which almost becomes a tradition of its own in a way.
Robertson mentioned that there are times when he can guess a person that serves as Elwood, but he recognizes it as more of a fun part of the mascot rather than a serious secret that people try to uncover.
The overall meaning of Elwood has gone beyond being the mascot that keeps people’s spirits up at basketball games. With history and tradition being held in high regard at Longwood, the school mascot takes those ideals and uses them to unite everyone. This includes those who end up serving as Elwood during their time at Longwood.
In regards to those students Robertson said, “Those who serve as Elwood, it’s something they talk about for years after they graduate. It’s as exciting today for the people who serve in that role as many other things on campus are.”
“You’re taking on something other than just showing up for basketball games,” Robertson stated, “You’ve got to have some enthusiasm; you’ve got to want to do the job.”
Elwood has taken on such an important role at Longwood, to the point where the mascot can be seen on some of Longwood’s merchandise such as t-shirts and fliers for basketball games. Having a spirited nature is an essential part of any mascot’s job, and that is just one way that Elwood has become a large symbol of Longwood University.
When asked what Elwood means to him, Robertson said, “He’s not a typical mascot that is just at ball games. He’s an integral part of the community.”