How UMass Lowell Got Rowdy


The Millmen, Globetrotters, Indians and Tex the Terrier have each had their era as campus mascots for the University’s predecessor school, usually retired at a time of change for the institutions. 

In the spring of 1948, the student body officially recognized "Terry Tex" as the mascot of the Institute. Personified in this bull terrier are all the things "Textile." The athletic teams carry his banner. The organizations and life at the Institute grow in the light of his spirited, scrappy, lively leadership. He is the epitome of the ideals and growing spirit that is the Lowell Textile Institute.


The Chiefs

When Lowell State College and Lowell Technological Institute merged to become the University of Lowell in 1975, the Chiefs took the stage for nearly 20 years. 

The Chiefs represented strength, honor and leadership to many, but the school didn’t want to contribute to misunderstandings of Native American culture. The Chiefs also offered limited possibilities for mascot fun while avoiding derogatory use of the name and symbol. 

Conversations about changing the campus nickname started several years before the school became part of the UMass system in 1991. A committee of faculty, staff, students and community members was formed in 1993 to assess the use of the Chiefs logo and the future of mascots on campus. For a time, the hockey mascot was a skating hockey puck, a fun sight but not known for intimidating opponents.

After several meetings with community members and discussions with experts, the committee voted 14-1 to recommend retiring the Chiefs logo in favor of a new nickname and mascot. Former Chancellor William Hogan accepted the recommendation in January of 1994, paving the way for a new era on campus.


The River Hawks Are Born

The University gathered 154 submissions from campus and city community members at meetings, but one idea came in a letter to then hockey coach Bruce Crowder. Chad Dooley, a member of the YougStar Club, suggested that the Hawks would be a good name for the school’s teams. 

Looking to connect the idea to the Merrimack River, the committee added the River Hawks to a ballot with the other finalists: the Ospreys; the Raging Rapids; and the Lightning. The River Hawks had their first victory in the popular vote.

Brian Trainor ’80 (pictured) designed a new logo for the school and the River Hawks made their campus debut on May 6, 1994.

hatch-crop-opt“The River Hawk has keen vision, sharp focus and a competitive spirit,” said Ralph Lawson, then president of the Friends of UMass Lowell Hockey, when introducing the mythical bird. “It soars to great heights, but never loses its connection to the river and land below. 

Straddling both sides of the Merrimack River, UMass Lowell has for a century been a thriving educational and research center with strong ties to the river and to the industries that line its shores. For this institution, the River Hawk is a most fitting symbol.” 

Dana Skinner, then associate athletic director, said that his staff were already coming up with ideas for the River Hawks and that the University would have a lot of fun with the new mascot. The fun hasn’t stopped since then.

The first River Hawks hatched at the Tulley Forum on Oct. 22, 1994. Twin birds- one blue, one red- took the ice as the River Hawks’ reign began.


Gruff Rowdy

The twins were closely followed by a gruff Rowdy, who struck fear into the hearts of kids as well as opponents for more than a decade. 

His cape and belt made him an athletic superhero, but his menacing beak, blinding teeth and bulging physique made only the bravest of young fans warm up to their feathered friend.

Reconnecting with Fans

Looking to reconnect with fans, Rowdy underwent a beak reduction and lost a few pounds, leading to a more approachable but cartoonish look.


Rowdy had to strike a good balance between intimidating and approachable, so he went under the sewing machine again soon after. He returned sleeker, more agile and also red. Rowdy really came out of his nest and attended more campus and community events, representing the River Hawks with pride. 

He welcomed the Stanley Cup to campus, modeled with students and even attended graduation, though he’s still a few credits shy of a degree after 20 years.



Rowdy’s red phase lasted for several years until one fateful day in 2012 when he stepped in to help a River Hawk in need.

BREAKING NEWS: Rowdy injured while delivering season tickets

UPDATE: Rowdy doing well at Lowell General Hospital

Our main bird made it through the ordeal, but returned with a different look, returning to his tried and true blue.


With his new look, Rowdy has gone to the Frozen Four, led his team to Division I and won a dance contest. He’s really found his power color in blue.

#Chance2Dance 2014 - UMass Lowell

Rowdy #Chance2Dance Presser

Rowdy has led thousands of River Hawks—official and honorary—in cheering on teams or celebrating events. He’s not a big talker, but Rowdy has let slip that he’s happy his falcon cousins are joining the team. 

Rowdy the River Hawk Is Welcomed to America East!

Rowdy Preps UMass Lowell's Campus for Division I

Happy Holidays from the River Hawks - 2012