Homecoming 2017 Highlights: The Mammoths Arrive

October 23, 2017

Bonfires. Mammoths. Dedications. Memorial tributes. Discussions. We had a little bit of everything at Homecoming 2017. Enjoy this recap. — Video by Marcus DeMaio. [audio description]

Picture a huge silvery sheet, like a drive-in movie screen before the previews start. It drapes the brick façade of Fayerweather, glowing under spotlights. Hundreds of students, alumni and others mill about Valentine quad Friday evening, Oct. 20, the first night of Homecoming. They scarf down pizza, cookies, and hot cocoa, warming themselves by the big celebratory bonfire, its reflection gilding the tall windows of Fayerweather.


At 8:00 pm, President Biddy Martin takes the stage, and her voice booms over the sound system: “After 2,000 suggestions and 9,200 votes … We. Are. The. MAMMOTHS!” Tugging on ropes, the facilities crew deftly pulls down the silver sheet to reveal the new mascot design underneath. It is purple, fierce, stylized but not cartoonish, tusks forward. Cheers fill the air, as a grove of raised smartphones capture this moment in Amherst history.



“I’m definitely proud. I’m so glad we have a symbol we can all rally around,” says Olivia Pinney ’17, who served on the Student Traditions subcommittee of the Mascot Committee.

“I like it more than I expected to,” concedes Jon Ralph ’86. “I like that he’s a fighting mascot and not a ready-to-go-extinct mascot.”

Dominique Manuel ’20 smiles. “I am satisfied: it’s strong, not cheesy.”

Adds Ben Gilsdorf ’21, “It looks like an animal that can bulldoze Wesleyan tomorrow.”  

You got that right, Ben: In the last two minutes of Saturday’s football game, the Mammoths edged out the Cardinals, thanks to a thrilling 51-yard touchdown rush by Hasani Figueroa ’18. The final score stood at 21-17. The team took the field by running through a large paper banner of the new Mammoth logo. And the stands were positively purple, full of fans wearing shirts emblazoned with the new College mascot.


Meanwhile, Homecoming 2017 brought a stampede of other events, from performances to alumni panels to athletic competitions and more.

On Friday, homecomers swung by the dedication of the newly renovated Memorial Baseball Field and dashed — over to a meeting of the Emily Dickinson Poetry Discussion Group. They scoped out the Association for Women in Science Alumnae Panel and heard about campus projects from Jim Brassord, chief of campus operations. A number of journalist alums reported to the Amherst Student Homecoming Reception, and a good crowd found Catherine Epstein’s talk instructive: the dean of the faculty and Winkley Professor of History spoke about Amherst’s current academic landscape.


On Saturday, alumni raced down to the College’s outdoor track for a run with the cross-country teams, and invested some time with Chief Financial Officer Kevin Weinman for the Amherst College Financial Update. They bonded with campus groups like La Causa, the Black Student Union and the Student Health Educators. Some staged a poignant memorial celebration for actor Ken Howard ’66, while others stargazed at a Bassett Planetarium program that featured a recreation of the night sky over Amherst.  


Many herded over to a Frost Library talk by Michael Kelly, head of archives and special collections. Title? “On Mammoths and Mascots.” Here they learned that the mammoth has old and deep connections to Amherst athletics. Pratt Gymnasium, for instance, became Pratt Natural History Museum, which housed the mammoth skeleton unearthed in Florida in the 1920s by two Amherst biology professors with the help of their students. Amherst students also helped write the rules for intercollegiate sports in the 1850s.

“It’s so Amherst,” says Kelly. “When our students choose to do something, they do it to the nth degree.”

Just like at Homecoming 2017, with its proud new mascot.



Amherst Mammoths logo

More About Mammoth

What does a mammoth sound like? How did we chose the mammoth as our mascot? Can I follow the Mammoth on Facebook? All this and more is on our Mascot page.