ADRIAN - Halo the Husky is the newest member of Siena Heights' athletic operation.
His job isn't scoring points on the basketball court for the Saints, but pumping up the crowd as the university's first mascot.
"We knew something had to be done to bring something to the game," said Brent Blonshine, president of the new Student Athletic Advisory Board.
Mr. Blonshine, a senior studying sports management, helped lead the student effort to find a new face for the athletes.
"I'm happy with it," Mr. Blonshine said. "It represents us - feisty, but not too aggressive."
Basketball Coach Al Sandifer agreed it was a good choice.
"I hope they take pride in it, and I think it was needed for an identity," he said. "It's kind of hard to identify a saint."
The unveiling yesterday coincided with the university's cross-town rivalry game with Adrian College. A pep rally was held at noon to introduce the new mascot, then Halo the Husky was on hand for the 7:30 p.m. tip-off against the Bulldogs.
Siena Heights won 78-71, making it the fifth consecutive time they've earned bragging rights and the milk-can trophy passed between the teams.
The first step in getting the new identity was asking students for ideas, which generated nearly 80 suggestions.
The student board led by Mr. Blonshine, a member of the golf team, pared down the options to 10.
Then a committee of students and staff narrowed the options down to three that everyone would be OK with and it was time for the students to pick.
More than 300 students voted via e-mail, and the winner was kept secret until yesterday.
They chose among a husky, a dove, and a saint, which Mr. Blonshine described well as the university's version of the king in the Burger King commercials.
The husky won by a 40-vote margin, Mr. Blonshine said.
Matt Larson, a senior studying sports management, submitted the winning suggestion, playing off the cross-town rivalry. "It's kind of a shot at Adrian College, the bulldogs, because huskies are stronger and faster," he said.
Mr. Larson came up with the dog theme; the husky was the first to come to mind, and he stuck with it. And it worked.
He got a $250 grand prize from Siena Heights President Sister Peg Albert for his winning idea.
Mr. Larson said he's glad the university kept his suggestion of putting 08 on the mascot's jersey for the year he was created.
And the Halo name, that's a lot better than his suggestion of Shu for the university's initials, Mr. Larson said.
"I'm hoping that it will stir up some excitement," he said. "Not just for tonight's game, but all the events - like the weeknight games and afternoon games that don't get a lot of people."
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