By Kaie Quigley & Ruth Kehinde – Features Editor & Digital Editor
The community celebrated the twelfth birthday of school mascot Boomer on March 24 at an event held by the Student Alumni Association (SAA) in Valentine Dining Hall. The event was complete with decorations, birthday cake, blue cotton candy, and a cookie monster ice cream bar.
Boomer was born in 2009 when they were unveiled by President Michael Alexander at a rally in the Athletic Center. Hundreds were in attendance to illuminate the dark space with flashlights, resembling the tradition of the Torchlight Parade. Towards the end of President Alexander’s speech, Boomer was introduced to the community.
The idea of Boomer was a work in progress, taking years to fully create. After changing from a two-year to a four-year women’s college in 1989, Lasell applied to be a Division III National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) member to improve athletic programs for incoming students. At that time, a committee was formed to create a name, logo, and mascot for the school’s teams.
Vice President of Enrollment Management Kathleen O’Connor was a member of this committee along with two coaches, two student-athletes, Director of Athletics Kristy Walter, and Chief Marketing Officer Chris Lynette. Discussions of becoming co-ed had already begun, so according to O’Connor, “the name had to be gender-neutral. The name had to be reflective of our history. The name was very important.”
O’Connor said the committee agreed the name would be “Lasers” not only due to its gender neutrality but because “if you look at what lasers are, they are used in the medical field for precision and accuracy, which is what you’d want your athletes to do. There’s [also] the speed of a laser, which you would want of your athletes.” The symbol of a laser is also meant to be a modern-day representation of the “lamp of knowledge” appearing on the school’s seal.
When it came to deciding on a mascot years later, the committee took the same approach; keeping it gender-neutral and having it reflect the history of the institution. According to O’Connor, “Boomer” derives from those who founded the college with Edward Lasell in the 1840s. “The people who put up the money to buy the land, and start the college… that gave money to invest in building the college, were real estate tycoons that are commonly known as boomers.”
Also part of the mascot, often seen being held by Boomer, is the iconic torch, a symbol of Lasell. “It’s about passing knowledge on… it’s lighting the darkness ahead of us, so that we light the world and show knowledge,” said O’Connor. This sentiment is portrayed at the ceremonial Torchlight Parade, which is held annually for seniors before commencement. As an homage to the ceremony, Boomer’s full name is “Boomer the Torchbearer.”
According to Walter, Boomer makes appearances at “play-off games, opening games, open houses, Lasell Day, Move-in Day, Family, Friends and Alumni Weekend, alumni events and other campus events when invited.” Walter also said, “I do think that at some events, Boomer increases school spirit.”
To further ensure that Boomer is not assigned a gender, those that wear the suit at events remain anonymous and stay silent so that inferences of gender cannot be made based on the voice or appearance of the person inside. However, “they interact with the crowd, they take pictures with fans, and [they] cheer for the teams,” said Walter.
When not attending events, Boomer resides in storage in the Athletic Center.