Herky the Hawk fights for spot in Mascot Hall of Fame

Herky the Hawk is fighting for a spot in the Mascot Hall of Fame this week. The 2022 inductees will be announced Nov. 5 after multiple rounds of voting take place.


Ayrton Breckenridge

Herky waves a flag before a football game between No. 18 Iowa and No. 17 Indiana at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Hoosiers 34-6. (Ayrton Breckenridge/The Daily Iowan)

Marandah Mangra-Dutcher, News Reporter

Herky the Hawk takes on his next big challenge this week as he fights to be inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame, alongside mascots from around the country.

“The Mascot Hall of Fame recognizes the best mascots throughout the country,” Herky mascot coach Alex Kern said.

Executive Director of the Mascot Hall of Fame Karen Anaszewicz said 24 mascots have currently been inducted. The Mascot Hall of Fame, located in Whiting, Indiana, also serves as an interactive children’s museum.

“The whole idea behind our children’s museum is that it is a ‘mascot university,’” Anaszewicz said. “Kids come and they learn what it takes to be a mascot.”

This is the first year Herky has received a nomination, Kern said, but also the first year that Herky’s team sent in an application.

University of Iowa Spirit Squad Coordinator Gregg Niemiec said the application consisted of multiple questions about the Herky character. Kern said questions include how long the mascot has been around, what the mascot represents, and notable events in the mascot’s history.

While Herky has already been nominated, Niemiec said the voting process has many layers.

Every year, Anaszewicz said an executive committee of professionals from the mascot industry meet and discuss the applicants and create a ballot.

“They decide who is on that ballot based on the program,” Anaszewicz said. “They are looking at popularity, they are looking at [how] the mascots give back to the community, they are looking at athletic ability, and the stunts that they do, and actions, and their following.”

Anaszewicz said there are various rounds to vote in to narrow down the pool to at least two mascots for induction. The voting is open to the public, and people can vote for their favorite mascot on the Mascot Hall of Fame website.

The Mascot Hall of Fame has been around since 2005, she said, but did not have a brick-and-mortar building until 2018. The location stayed open for 13 months but had to shut down for another 13 months because of COVID-19, Anaszewicz said.

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Kern said, with the creation of the physical building, more people are aware of the organization. Herky’s team has wanted to apply since it learned the Mascot Hall of Fame existed.

“The team, at the time when the Mascot Hall of Fame opened, wasn’t ready to apply, and then COVID [hit],” Kern said.

The Mascot Hall of Fame includes mascots from around the country, Kern said, ranging from professional teams to college teams and even high school mascots are allowed to apply, as well.

Niemiec said the Herky team is currently promoting the nomination wherever it can.

“Social media is huge,” Niemiec said. “We sent an email out to our alumni, we sent an email out to the Hawkeye marching band and their alumni.”

The nomination is accredited to everyone who has helped Herky in the past, Niemiec said.

“It goes back to a lot of work from a lot of people, from those that started it as a papier-mâché sideline thing that had no backing, to everybody in the athletic department that has helped us out since then,” Niemiec said.

If a mascot is inducted into the hall of fame, Anaszewicz said they receive a “larger than life” ring for them to take home and display.

“We will make the announcement of who will be inducted in 2022 on Nov. 5 at our Cue the Confetti fundraiser,” Anaszewicz said.

If Herky were to be inducted into the Mascot Hall of Fame, Kern said Herky would be “iconic.”

“It cements our status as one of the best mascots in the country,” Kern said, “one of the best mascot programs in the country with one of the best fan bases, since that is a big part of being inducted.”

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