The Phoenix: Elon College’s new athletics identity

ELON COLLEGE, N.C. – The Phoenix, the legendary bird of ancient mythology, will take the place of the Fightin’ Christians as the new Elon College sports nickname. That announcement was made today at a gala all-campus celebration held on the final day of the academic year.

Elon President Leo M. Lambert called The Phoenix the “perfect choice” – a connection to the college’s triumphant recovery from the 1923 fire that destroyed the campus main building, including classrooms, records, the library and chapel.

“Like the legendary Phoenix, which rises from its own ashes with new life and vigor, Elon College was shaped by the fire, emerging as a stronger institution,” said Lambert. “The elegant and brilliant Phoenix described by ancient scholars was sleek, swift and one-of-a-kind. I can think of no better description for Elon’s outstanding athletics programs.”

Athletics Director Alan White, who co-chaired a 15-member task force that chose the new identity, said The Phoenix is an instant hit with student-athletes and the coaching staff. “This unique identity, along with its graphic symbol, will be a great advantage in promoting our programs in NCAA Division I competition. It has a great deal of institutional significance and describes an athletic program that is rising to new levels of excellence.”

As described by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, the Phoenix is a rare creature with remarkable connections to Elon College and its history. The Phoenix’s plumage matches the school’s maroon and gold colors. Once every 500 years, when it felt its death approaching, the Phoenix would build a nest in an oak tree – a link to the college name, Elon, which is Hebrew for oak, and its picturesque forested campus environment.

After being consumed in the nest by its own flames, the Phoenix would rise again to fly to the temple of the sun. The bird is a symbol of light, knowledge and everlasting vigor – in line with Elon’s mission and institutional values. Ancient philosophers described the sacred bird as a powerful leader and an emblem of hope, providing connections to the promise of higher education.

The primary graphic symbol creates a flying Phoenix formed in the shape of the letter E. Graphic designers who created the mark liked the unique incorporation of the Phoenix symbol with the word Elon.

The Phoenix was chosen from among more than 125 names suggested by members of the Elon College community. It won high marks in focus group testing and surveys that involved more than 120 students, trustees, alumni, faculty and staff.

“People like the fact that The Phoenix is a rare and distinct sports identity, just like its predecessor, the Fightin’ Christians,” said Nan Perkins, vice president for advancement and co-chair of the task force. “No other college or professional team in our region has this nickname. It will immediately become associated with Elon and perfectly describes our dynamic institution which is constantly renewing and re-creating itself.”

SFX Sports Group, an international sports marketing firm based in New York, advised the college on its search for a new identity and produced the primary graphic symbol that was unveiled today. SFX has completed more than 1,000 sports-oriented projects in professional and collegiate athletics. Past clients include Major League Baseball, the NBA and NFL, and scores of university programs.

Work will continue this summer to create secondary graphic symbols and a new mascot, which will be unveiled in the fall.