Converse announced a new athletic mascot this evening on center court of the college’s Hannah Gym. Just before tip off for the volleyball match with Limestone College, Converse Athletic Director Joy Couch announced the Valkyries as the overwhelming winner in a naming competition that allowed for online suggestions and voting from the Converse community and the general public.
With the announcement, Converse becomes the nation’s only college or university with the Valkyries as its mascot. Converse student-athletes had previously been known as the All-Stars.
“Exercising true Converse creativity, and in ‘American Idol’ fashion, we invited the Converse community to help select a new mascot. From this day forward we are the Converse Valkyries – valiant women, strong and brave, heroes on and off the field. Any corporate marketing firm would be hard pressed to identify a more appropriate symbol for Converse in the 21st century,” said Converse President Betsy Fleming.
Converse currently fields teams in basketball, soccer, cross country, volleyball and tennis, and plans to add golf, lacrosse and swimming to its roster in the near future. The college also has an equestrian program, which may lend a hand in bringing the Valkyrie mascot to life on the playing field. “Isn’t it exciting to imagine a Valkyrie riding across our field on her horse, wielding her spear and shield as Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ is performed by our music students,” said Couch.
The legend of the Valkyries was born in Norse mythology. Also known as “Choosers of the Slain,” the Valkyries are beautiful, strong warrior goddesses, mounted upon winged horses and armed with spears and shields, who preside over battles – governing victory and choosing souls of the greatest fallen heroes to bring back to Valhalla. In Thomas Bulfinch’s highly influential work Bulfinch’s Mythology (1855), the armor of the Valkyries “sheds a strange flickering light, which flashes up over the northern skies, making what men call the ‘Aurora Borealis’ or ‘Northern Lights.’”
Baye Williamson, a Converse senior from Kingsport, Tenn. and a standout member of Converse’s volleyball team, said “I think a strong woman figure is the perfect symbol of Converse. I am very happy about the way that the mascot competition involved people from the entire campus community and beyond.”