Hoop-La Celebrates 2019–20 Women’s Basketball, Introduces Athletics Mascot

November 5, 2019

The USA South East Division ranked MBU women's basketball No. 1 in their preseason poll.

The MBU family packed the Physical Activities Center tonight to meet this year’s MBU women’s basketball team and get hyped for the upcoming season. Ranked No. 1 in the USA South East Division’s preseason poll, the Fighting Squirrels compete in their first home game on November 13 against Eastern Mennonite.

The USA South East Division ranked MBU women's basketball No. 1 in their preseason poll.

During the Hoop-La event, students nabbed free giveaways and food, participated in contests, watched an intra-squad scrimmage, and heard preseason remarks from Head Coach Ross James, who was named the USA South Coach of the Year for 2018–19.

Pumping up the crowd during the rally was a special surprise guest — Baldwin the Fighting Squirrel, the official mascot of MBU Athletics — who took to the court for the first time at an athletics event to celebrate women’s basketball.

“Baldwin is part of the university’s efforts to create an athletics brand that resonates with students, alumni, and the community, and that brings us all together in the Fighting Squirrels spirit to cheer on our sports teams,” said Tom Byrnes, MBU athletics director. “Since mascots are an important part of the athletics experience for fans on and off campus, the university wanted to ensure that Baldwin reflects the courageous, dynamic nature of the Mary Baldwin community.”

Fans and Baldwin the Fighting Squirrel celebrate MBU women's basketball at Hoop-La on November 5.

Inspired by the squirrel found in Mary Julia Baldwin’s family crest (and also featured in the official MBU seal), Baldwin both symbolizes the university’s rich heritage and nods to the ongoing athletics renaissance that has brought the addition of new athletics programs, facilities upgrades, and expanded staffing and resources. The Baldwin mascot was created in collaboration with MBU by Maydwell Mascots, based in Ontario, Canada, which specializes in creating designs that are carefully considered down to the finest detail.

Baldwin joins Gladys the Squirrel, who serves as a special ambassador to alumni and the Mary Baldwin College for Women and appears at events including Homecoming, Reunion, and alumni chapter gatherings. The university recently invested in a new, custom-made Gladys costume that is an exact replica of the previous costume, also handcrafted by Maydwell.