Mind over Mascot: Representing Mundelein

Wildcats, Phoenix, and Dragons aren’t the only valid mascots for universities in Chicago, and while the LU Wolf follows the theme, Mundelein has experimented freely and creatively with mascots over the years. From a spunky turtle named Terry to the façade of Mundelein itself, join me in looking back at some of Mundelein’s most iconic representatives.

And make sure you stick around till the end where I’ll show Mundelein’s most intriguing attempt at a university mascot.

Firgure 1: Mundelein College softball team poses for team photo straddling the Mundelein College sign in front of Coffey Hall, 1990. 

Like many universities, Mundelein has deep roots in sports and competition. Ping pong, tennis, swimming, horseback riding, and even football make up just a portion of the physical activity offered to the young women at Mundelein. Mundelein students don’t appear to need help representing themselves, and plenty of photos exist in the collection that underscore the importance of sport to these college students. Uniforms, Mundelein signs, and posing with sports equipment replace a unified mascot across campus.

Figure 2: Mundelein College Horseback Riding Club raise hands while posing on horses at the Parkway Riding Academy during the MC Riding Club Annual Horse Show, 1940.

Figure 5: Mundelein College South View. Photobook, 1931.

Mundelein was known for its 15-story skyscraper building, the façade of which is iconic to the school and its legacy. Not necessarily a traditional mascot, but the imagery persists with Mundelein lore. The façade is photographed heavily in the collection—in snow celebrating a day off classes, with red paint to protest war, and is recreated in drawings and illustrations as representative of the school. The skyscraper was completed in 1930 and sets the college apart from other institutions built during the same period.

While it seems that it was easy for Mundelein students to pick up sports, it was clearly not as easy to nail down a mascot. While it is true that Mundelein merch was rare on campus, the M insignia and red and gold coloring scream school spirit. The Mundelein college class ring even featured the famed Skyscraper, and the classic Mundelein beanie surely lives in the hearts of many alums as representative of a unified student body.  The Mundelein beanie is ever the popular relic from a college gone by and is as iconic for past students as the LU Wolf is for students today.

Some teams had mascots of their own, including the Terrapins—a swimming team that did water plays, synchronized swimming, and water ballet. Terry the Turtle is the iconic mascot for the Terrapin Club, and perhaps the most lasting animal representative hosted by a Mundelein sports team.

Figure 8: Mundelein College synchronized swimming team, the Terrapins, celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Terrapin Club and pose for team photo sitting around a stuffed terrapin with an “M” on it that is attached to a large star. The students are holding flags from different countries. 1941. 
Figure 9: Terry the Turtle dressed as Santa, with a fake beard sitting in a chimney, labeled “For You!” Circa 1939.

Terry the Turtle is a dapper turtle, celebrates holidays, and even has a birthday. He has two distinct forms in Mundelein lore: one being a very turtle-like turtle with an indicative “M” on his shell, and the other a fanciful representation of Terry’s personality come to life—as sophisticated and decorative as the day is long. 

Terry, however special to all Mundelein students, only represents the Terrapin club. Of all the sports organizations at Mundelein, the most hilariously unique attempt to create a mascot is the “Laker”. The Laker is, simply put, Lake Michigan anthropomorphized. In the photo below you can see a student wearing a large blue suit, complete with a face, ready to represent Mundelein’s athletic department. I’d heard rumors of the fabled Laker, but until I saw this famed mascot for myself, I couldn’t comprehend what a sight it would be. All of a sudden, the Rambler seems a bit boring… Personally I wouldn’t mind pledging my allegiance to the sixth Great Lake, even if it is giving me the side eye. 

Figure 10: Mundelein College basketball team mascot, Lucy Laker, played by Mundelein student, Cherie Wanatowicz. circa 1985.

These images, and many many more, are part of a grant to digitize and preserve precious materials relating to Mundelein College. The collection will live on the Illinois Digital Archives site where users will be able to scroll through memories and events captured here on campus. Check back in the coming months to see your university represented on the https://www.idaillinois.org/ website. Until then, check back here on our blog page and join us as we explore some sneak peek materials from the collection!

Until next time, fellow “Lakers”! 

Figure 11: Four Mundelein College members, including Coach Brenda Weare, stand in lobby of Mundelein College wearing red boutonnieres. One student has their face painted white and blue, they are dressed in a large blue costume with a face on it and are wearing a white hat. 1987.


Katy Rose is studying for her master’s degrees in Public History and Library and Information Science. She has a BA in Art History and her special interest is art made by women in the US South. She would love to see the quilt your grandma made and hear about your favorite family heirlooms.


Loyola University Chicago’s Women and Leadership Archives Blog is designed to provide a positive environment for the Loyola community to discuss important issues and ideas. Differences of opinion are encouraged. We invite comments in response to posts and ask that you write in a civil and respectful manner. All comments will be screened for tone and content and must include the first and last name of the author and a valid email address. The appearance of comments on the blog does not imply the University’s endorsement or acceptance of views expressed. Questions? Please contact the WLA at wlarchives@LUC.edu.

Figure 1. “Mundelein College softball team poses for team photo straddling the Mundelein College sign in front of Coffey Hall.” 1990. Box 8, Folder 10, Mundelein College Photograph Collection, Women and Leadership Archives, Chicago, IL.  

Figure 2. “Mundelein College Horseback Riding Club raise hands while posing on horses at the Parkway Riding Academy during the MC Riding Club Annual Horse Show.” 1940. Box 8, Folder 7, Mundelein College Photograph Collection, Women and Leadership Archives, Chicago, IL. Digitized 2022-06-29

Figure 3. “Mundelein College tennis club poses for photo with wooden tennis rackets in gymnasium.” 1930. Box 8, Folder 15, Mundelein College Photograph Collection, Women and Leadership Archives, Chicago, IL. Digitized 2022-06-27

Figure 4. “Mundelein College student athlete posing in fencing foil and gear but no helmet.”  1937. Box 8, Folder 2, Mundelein College Photograph Collection, Women and Leadership Archives, Chicago, IL. Digitized 2022-06-27 

Figure 5. “South View” 1931. Mundelein College Scrapbook Collection, Scrapbook 12, page 4, Women and Leadership Archives, Chicago, IL.  

Figure 6. “Mundelein College mascot in chair with Mundelein College shorts, shirt, pennant, and bag.” Box 8, Folder 9, Mundelein College Photograph Collection, Women and Leadership Archives, Chicago, IL.  

Figure 7. “Mundelein Beanie.” Photograph taken 2018, Women and Leadership Archives, Chicago, IL. 

Figure 8. “Mundelein College synchronized swimming team, the Terrapins, celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Terrapin Club and pose for team photo sitting around a stuffed terrapin with an “M” on it that is attached to a large star. The students are holding flags from different countries.” 1941 Box 8, Folder 12, Mundelein College Photograph Collection, Women and Leadership Archives, Chicago, IL. Digitized 2022-07-05.

Figure 9. “Terry the Turtle dressed as Santa, with a fake beard sitting in a chimney, labeled ‘For You!’.” 1938-1958. Mundelein College Scrapbook Collection, Scrapbook 0003, page 44, Women and Leadership Archives, Chicago, IL.  

Figure 10. “Mundelein College basketball team mascot, Lucy Laker, played by Mundelein student, Cherie Wanatowicz.” c. 1985. Box 8, Folder 9, Mundelein College Photograph Collection, Women and Leadership Archives, Chicago, IL. Digitized 2022-06-29

Figure 11. “Four Mundelein College members, including Coach Brenda Weare, stand in lobby of Mundelein College wearing red boutonnieres. One student has their face painted white and blue, they are dressed in a large blue costume with a face on it, and they are wearing a white hat.” 1987. Box 7, Folder 14, Mundelein College Photograph Collection, Women and Leadership Archives, Chicago, IL. Digitized 2022-06-27

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About Women and Leadership Archives

Established in 1994, the Women and Leadership Archives (WLA) collects, preserves, and makes available permanently valuable records of women and women’s organizations, which document women’s lives, roles, and contributions. The WLA grew out of the need to care for the records of Mundelein College and expanded to collect papers of women leaders and women’s organizations. Collection strengths include the subject areas of activism and women’s issues; authors; education; environmental issues; public service; social justice; women religious; and the fine, performance, and visual arts. The WLA is part of the Gannon Center and Loyola University Libraries and serves a wide variety of users, ranging from students and scholars to the general public. The WLA makes records available at the Archives in Loyola’s Piper Hall, offers remote reference services, presents programs, and provides online resources. Staff include a Director, Assistant Archivist, and graduate assistants from Loyola’s Public History Program.

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