Sightings of Rocky the Red Hawk have become increasingly common all across the Montclair State campus at events ranging from homecoming and athletic events to freshman orientation and commencement.
“When you come to Montclair State, you become a Red Hawk for the rest of your life,” says Cindy Meneghin, director of Student Communications for the University’s division of Student Development and Campus Life. “Rocky is the embodiment of Red Hawk Pride.”
Meneghin oversees Team Rocky, which was established in fall 2015, to help the popular mascot maintain a larger-than-life presence on campus.
“Thanks to the team, we’re able to schedule Rocky’s attendance at various events and to have Rocky be a positive presence on campus for students, faculty and staff,” says Hannah Lindeblad, coordinator of Marketing and Digital Media for Student Communications.
Red Hawk Spirit
“It’s a leadership role and privilege to be a Rocky,” explains Meneghin. “The 13 dedicated members of Team Rocky are a diverse group that’s representative of the entire campus community. There are graduate and undergraduates students, residents and commuters, out-of-state and in-state students, from a variety of majors and programs – and, this year, we have our very first female Rocky as well.”
While some students serve as Rocky, others work as handlers to keep Rocky safe and hydrated and to speak for him. “Rocky’s outfit weighs about 15 pounds and the head weighs about five,” notes Educational Leadership graduate student Kyle Kowal, the Team Rocky student coordinator. “People think mascots are just cute and fun, but being a Rocky is hot and sweaty work that requires dedication to the Red Hawk spirit.”
Full-time students in leadership roles on campus who hold at least a 2.75 GPA and have a positive student conduct record are invited to join Team Rocky. “They must exhibit strong interpersonal skills and have true Red Hawk Pride,” says Lindeblad. “They also need to stand at least 5-feet 7-inches tall.” Team Rocky members can serve as both Rocky and handlers.
After being auditioned to ensure that they can remain enthusiastic and uphold Rocky’s dignity while wearing the cumbersome suit, students sign a contract and are sworn in with an oath acknowledging that being a Rocky is a serious job, honor and responsibility. They schedule his events and afterward figure out how Team Rocky can do things better.
Whether helping students settle in and unpack on Move-In Day or leading undergraduates down the aisle each year at commencement, Rocky is an integral part of the campus experience.
“Rocky’s mission is to foster Red Hawk Pride in everyone - from new students to graduating seniors to faculty and staff,” says Meneghin. “Keep a lookout for Rocky.”
Look for Rocky around campus throughout the academic year. Share photos of Rocky on his Snapchat account @RockytheRedHawk and use the hashtag #RedHawkPride.