Hammond, Louisiana — Last Saturday night, the Lions fought against the Wildcats from Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. There was excitement in the air, and more than 6,000 fans flocked into Strawberry Stadium to watch the team succeed in their first home game, which would have started their new season in a grand fashion. However, happiness soon led to disappointment when they suffered a frustrating defeat at the hands of their opponents.
An easy victory was in sight for the Lions from the outset, but as the evening progressed, they made simple mistakes. For example, when the Wildcats quarterback ran a play, the Lions had ample time to tackle him, but squandered it because they drew their attention to the offensive players. Their hesitation did not go unnoticed by many diehard fans.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but these are not the Lions I know,” said John Sartori, junior communication major and student broadcaster. “Hopefully, they get everything straightened out and turn it around.” Another key factor that led to the Lions’ defeat was their decision to make three field goals before an actual touchdown.
“They had plenty of opportunities to run the ball towards the end zone, but instead of persevering through their defensive tactics, they took the “easy” way out,” said Sartori. This was not the only surprise however as the new look for mascot Roomie the Lion was revealed.
Roomie got his famous name from Dr. Hollis Wilson, a former biology professor at the university who had a handicapped roommate who, whenever he needed assistance, would always shout “Roomie!” and Dr. Wilson would come running. Now, the legacy of these two gentlemen is immortalized in the larger-than-life character.
Since his first public appearance, Roomie has charmed the hearts and minds of fans, students and faculty alike with his cheerful disposition and good humor. While his personality never changed, the same can not be said for his overall look as his previous incarnation was hailed as one of the best in recent years. Although, last semester, a decision was made to bring a fresh change to the mascot.
“In the spring, they had an election for Roomie’s new look, and I’m glad they finally displayed him tonight for everyone to see,” said Larshell Green, junior communication major and editor-in-chief of The Lion’s Roar. “There were two different styles to choose from, so each vote from the students mattered whether they knew it or not,” she said. The university promoted Roomie’s change as an evolution of his “mind, body and mane,” and when the audience caught a glimpse of the time-honored character, they were shocked.
As Roomie rode onto the field in his motorized chariot, the popular songs “Circle of Life” and “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” from Disney’s hit animated feature ‘The Lion King’ played over the speakers; while people cheered at first, they began to express their distaste for his redesign once he made his leave. “Originally, he appeared more rustic but his friendly demeanor was still intact, and they took a more stylized, cartoony approach for his new look,” said Sartori. The reception of his change has been unanimously negative.
“Everybody disliked the new Roomie and he looks scarier than before,” said Green. “The university might change him back once they hear about the negativity he received.” After Roomie’s new look was revealed, the hashtag “Not my Roomie” began trending on popular social media sites. The hashtag is a parody of “Not my President” which emerged after Donald Trump won the election last November.
During halftime, the Spirit of the Southland marching band did a tribute to Disney with a medley of their famous compositions. They began with “Be Prepared” from ‘The Lion King,’ followed by “Be Our Guest” from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and ended with “How Far I’ll Go” from ‘Moana,’ Disney’s most recent animated feature. While the performance was enjoyable, it was plagued with slight errors.
“The band was awesome; the only problem was we couldn’t really hear what they were playing,” said Jenna Liccardi, junior business administration major and student mentor for the College of Business. “It seemed they were focused on being perfect, but forgot to take the audience into account when performing,” she said. Despite these flaws, the Spirit of the Southland were well-supported by the color guard and several high school bands who visited campus for a special workshop earlier in the afternoon.
A third problem the Lions had during the game was one of their players threw the ball out of range from his teammates several times, which only increased the anger of those in the stands. Also, once the team earned a touchdown and managed a substantial lead, it was quickly recouped by the Wildcats who dominated the remainder of the contest.
- The Daily Star (Hammond, LA)
James Summerlin, Sports Editor 985-254-7821
- The Times-Picayune (Slidell, LA)
Evan Woodbury, Football Reporter 504-826-3300