A glowworm. A pea. A frog. A green blob from the Crimdell. What do these things have in common? They are all guesses as to what Colonel Ebirt, our College’s spirited green character, is.
“No one knows [what Ebirt is]â€”he’s special to our school,” said sophomore Jordan Blair, the most recent person to wear the Ebirt costume. Some students view the confusion about what Ebirt is to be a problem.
"Since people view Ebirt as our mascot, he needs to be something identifiable," said sophomore Laura Pendleton.
For those who may be confused, the name Ebirt is simply our school theme, Tribe, spelled backwards. The actual costumed character has only been around two years, after Colonial Williamsburg funded a student spirit group to generate support for College athletics called the Regiment. Colonel Ebirt, a character meant to serve as the symbolic head of the Regiment, was a gift from Busch Gardens. A little known fact is that Ebirt was never meant to be the College's school mascot.
“The intent was never that Colonel Ebirt would be a mascot,” said Director of Athletics Terry Driscoll. “We had no big plans for [him].”
Up until the mid-70s, the College’s theme was the Indians, complete with a horseback rider who showed up at games. Over time, this controversial title evolved to Tribe, the current nickname. However, the College was without a mascot for a long while and scattered suggestions for implementing a new one never reached consensus among students, administration, and alumni.
The challenge is finding a new mascot that fits the profile of the College. Ebirt has adopted the role of mascot because of his noted popularity with children and alumni.
“He’s enough of a character that kids aren’t afraid of him,” said Blair, who doubts that Ebirt will be replaced any time in the near future since the Athletic Department just purchased a sturdier costume in fall of 2002.
However, Mr. Driscoll says that the Department is open to suggestions and points out that the mascot does not have to necessarily agree with the Tribe theme.
“To have a nickname and a symbol not directly related is not uncommon in collegiate athletics,” he said, noting such examples as Alabama’s Crimson Tide who chose the Elephant and the Stanford Cardinals whose unofficial mascot is “The Tree.”
“If there were a group out there that could bring together the alumni, students, and administration in agreement, we would definitely be receptive,” Driscoll said.