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            The RedHawk became the fourth mascot in the history of Martin Methodist College athletics during an elaborate multi-media presentation as part of Homecoming 2002.


            Between the women’s and men’s basketball games on that Homecoming Saturday (Nov. 16, 2002), the previous athletic mascot, the Indian, gave way to the new, student-chosen RedHawk. The Indian, selected in 1950, had served as the mascot for more than a half-century. Prior to that, photos in Martin yearbooks early in the 20th century – when the school was exclusively for women – had identified athletic teams by the nickname of the Spinsters, and, during Martin’s brief foray into college football in 1939 and 1940 as men were first allowed to enroll, the nickname was the Cardinals.


            As cultural concerns began to arise across the nation surrounding sports teams that had Native American characters as mascots (Indians, Braves, Chiefs, Warriors, Redskins, Seminoles, Fighting Sioux and Fighting Illini), officials at Martin Methodist College chose to make the mascot change a positive one. They solicited suggestions from students as part of a spirited competition and then unveiled the new RedHawk logo and the new costumed mascot, Rowdy the RedHawk, as part of 2002 Homecoming festivities.


The new mascot was an immediate hit, with the men’s basketball team winning the inaugural game as RedHawks, 69-64, over Athens State University. (For the record, the women’s team also won the last sporting event to be played as Indians, 92-63, over Reinhardt College earlier in the afternoon.)


“The RedHawk mascot made for a fitting successor to the Indian,” President Ted Brown said at the time. “The red-tailed hawk not only is indigenous to this region, but it is a creature that has a strong connection to the Native American culture and folklore. In fact, during our continued involvement with the Trail of Tears project that is unfolding here in Giles County, we learned that one of the Cherokee families that traveled through Pulaski on the Benge’s Route was led by a man named Red Hawk.”