By Braden Clark
Students at Dixie State University are loving the publicity their school has been getting in the last week, and in result, sharing their school pride over social media.
“I love the new mascot! Great representation of the Dixie spirit. Job well done,” said Jeremy Buck, a Dixie State University alum, over Twitter.
“We are setting records, and doing great things here at Dixie State,” said Ammon Haymond, a student at Dixie State, over Instagram.
Along with changing its school mascot, Dixie State found itself in a Twitter banter with an NBA playoff team. Dixie State’s announcement tweet, “We are the DIXIE STATE TRAILBLAZERS” on Tuesday got the attention of the pro basketball team who responded shortly after.
“We were eating dinner when it all started, and one of my friends yelled across the table, ‘Guys! We are in a Twitter battle with the Portland Trail Blazers!’ you can imagine the confusion,” said Andrew Ashton, a student at Dixie State University. “I was wondering how we got their attention in the first place, because we are a small school in St. George, Utah, and they are preparing for the playoffs.”
Dixie State University announced the name change from the “Red Storm” to the “Trailblazers” Tuesday morning, and Portland responded to the tweet with simply, “One word, or two?” which caught a lot of the students by surprise.
“I thought we spelled our name wrong,” Haymond said, “I assumed that they had the correct spelling of the name, because they’ve always been called the Trail Blazers ever since they’ve been in the NBA. I honestly thought we were gonna back down from them, but instead we responded.”
After going back and forth the university seemingly finished the battle on Wednesday with a tweet bashing the Portland team for losing in the NBA finals in 1992.
“I think it was a refreshing surprise to some to see that a university could have some fun,” said Joel Griffin, Dixie State University’s coordinator of public relations. “When they first tweeted us with ‘One word or two?’ it was about trademark, but we’d done our homework. When they sent us the Damian Lillard gif with him shaking his head we thought, ‘Okay, they want to have some fun, so let’s go.’”
On Thursday, the university tried to reconnect with the Portland twitter by sending a picture of Lionel Hollins, a point guard on the 1977 championship Trail Blazer basketball team and Dixie State point guard from 1971 to 1973.
“Even though we teased them about the ’92 NBA finals we knew they had won a championship in ’77 and it turns out we have a strong tie to them outside of just our name; their point guard when they won the championship was Dixie State Alumnus Lionel Hollins,” Griffin said. “We made up a basketball card in our last reply to highlight that connection.”
After the announcement and throughout the week students and locals gathered around campus to take pictures with the new logo and mascot.
“It’s been a fun week here in St. George, and with the name and mascot change it looks like the students are even more excited than us common folk,” said Doug Miller, a St. George native for 15 years. “We’ve been through a lot of the name changes, and it seems like this one will stick for a while. It’s exciting to see what’s happened to this university in the last few years.”
“The university feels like it changed overnight. Brooks the Bison’s face is all over the campus and the students have been wearing their swag proudly and lining up hours before the events this week to get their hands on more. Dixie State’s Trailblazer identity is here to stay,” Griffin said.