The teams that compete as part of the growing athletic program at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) will be known as the Mighty Oaks, an identity chosen by more than 800 current and incoming students who participated in an online poll.
All current undergraduate and graduate students, along with this fall's incoming freshmen and transfer students, were invited to use a special Web site to vote for their choice of six prospective mascots.
"We are developing an intercollegiate sports program, but as our athletes have taken the field they haven't had an official team name or mascot to call their own," said Robert C. French, ESF's vice president for enrollment management and marketing. "It was great to work with our student leaders on this project and to have so many of our students participate and help ESF start this new tradition."
Mighty Oaks was chosen over ESF Rangers, Lumberjacks, Coyotes, Black Bears, and Night Owls. The project was sponsored by ESF's Student Government Association and the Office of Communications.
Mighty Oaks won by a wide margin, with many students noting they were looking for a unique name that seemed to fit the College.
In addition to saluting ESF's deep roots in the field of forestry, the team name is a nod to one of the most identifiable landmarks on the College's campus in Syracuse: the Robin Hood Oak. The stately tree, between Bray and Walters Hall at the east end of the campus, was the first tree to be listed on the National Register of Historic Trees in the United States. The tree grew from an acorn, obtained by then-ESF Professor Nelson C. Brown, who got the acorn from the famous Major Oak in England's Sherwood Forest around 1926. According to legend, the Major Oak sheltered Robin Hood and his Merry Men from their enemies.
ESF currently has teams that participate in golf and men's and women's club soccer. A cross-country team will compete this fall. ESF's oldest intercollegiate team, the Woodsmen's Team, was founded in 1912 and continues to compete in traditional timber sports.