Saturday, Jul. 02, 2011
SWIC’s storm cloud gives way to snow leopard

BY WILL BUSS – News-Democrat

BELLEVILLE, ILLINOIS — The smirking-faced thundercloud is out at Southwestern Illinois College.

This fall, when the SWIC Blue Storm takes the court and field of play, they will be represented by a blue-eyed snow leopard.

The Belleville-based community college unveiled the new mascot Friday. The school’s athletic department is replacing the Blue Storm logo, but not the team name.

Athletic Director Jay Harrington said the college wanted to join an eco-driven movement by adopting a team mascot that brings awareness to an endangered species.

“We wanted to do our part, and we really wanted to do what we can to help,” Harrington said. “We feel like that is pretty important.”

The school’s sports teams have been known as the Blue Storm and have played under the storm cloud logo since 2000. During prior decades, the school’s teams were known as the Dutchmen.

Harrington said the new mascot follows other college athletics departments that have adopted team mascots that are endangered species. Harrington cited the University of Alabama, which has long been known as the Crimson Tide and has an elephant mascot. He also said Loyola University in Chicago, known as the Ramblers, adopted the wolf as its team mascot.

Harrington said that by choosing the snow leopard, SWIC hopes to not only draw attention and awareness to the endangered animal, but also to establish one or more scholarships for student-athletes pursuing careers in veterinary sciences or sustainable energy. Merchandise and apparel printed with the new team logo should be available later this year.

“We are very excited that we’re trying to do something for the environment,” he said. “People may think this is cheesy, but it’s not. It’s real. Our school is trying to be more innovative.”

The college is having a contest to name the mascot. Information about the contest is available at

Contact reporter Will Buss at or 239-2526.

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