Today, June 3rd, marks the 55th birthday of the Gilman “Greyhound”. Here’s a little history of the name, originally published in the Gilman-McDonogh 100th Football Game Program.
When a name or a symbol has been around for a while, we start to take it for granted. It’s hard to imagine a time when it didn’t exist. But everything has an origin story, and recently I got to explore the beginnings of one of Gilman’s enduring symbols.
It was Mac Barrett ’67 who came to me with this stumper of a question. Mac wondered “What is the origin of the Greyhound as Gilman’s mascot?” I had to admit I had no idea. While much of Gilman’s symbolic history, from the use of Daniel Coit Gilman’s name to the bees in the Gilman crest, have been well documented, the Greyhound has been a bit of a lost mystery.
Poring through the yearbooks, I found that a few nicknames for Gilman were used for the first 60 years or so of the school’s history. Mainly, we were called “The Roland Parkers” or “The Blue and Gray”. There were also vague references to less friendly nicknames bestowed by competitors…
It was in the 1963 yearbook that I found the first reference to Greyhounds, in an article reviewing the 1962 football season. Still no hints as to the origin of the word, however. It was time to turn to the Gilman News, the ultimate chronicler of day-to-day Gilman life.
The March 3, 1961, edition of the News provided the first part of the answer. The article read in part:
“What one thing does Gilman lack? The Cardinals of Calvert Hall have one. The Dons of Loyola have one, The Engineers of Polytechnic have one. The Cadets of McDonogh have one. And yet Gilman does not have a nick-name.”
The News offered a $5 prize to the student who could come up with the best nickname. The June 2,
1961 year-end issue of the News announced that from hundreds of entries, John Sheldon ’62 had won with the entry “Greyhounds”. The first Gilman News headline using the new moniker appeared October 13, 1961.
I had the good fortune to sit down with John recently and asked him what he recalled about the contest. He remembered thinking that the Greyhound was a natural pick, because of the school’s colors and the animals’ speed. He couldn’t recall exactly what he did with the prize money, but said “if it was in cash, it probably went straight to candy in the school store”.
So there we have it. A simple contest created a lasting icon for all Gilman students to rally around. Who would have thought?