Welcome Herm V: A Little Hermstory

December 15th, 2020

The fifth incarnation of the EMU Blue Lion known familiarly as Herm was introduced during the kick-off celebration Friday, Oct. 16, of Homecoming Weekend. His history begins well before this passing of the torch. Here are some highlights:

1980: Basketball coach Sherman Eberly ‘68 tells The Weather Vane that he’d like to see “some type of mascot” and an organized pep band next season, which would “add a great deal to team spirit.” Up until now, the Royals logo has been drawn as a coat of arms.

1981: Alumni relations director Les Helmuth ‘78 holds a student competition to create a cartoon mascot. The Royals Lion wins the competition, and a character design is first drawn by Darrell Yoder ‘81 with the name “HRM,” short for “his royal majesty.”

Gloria Lehman ‘74, a home economics teacher at Eastern Mennonite High School, and Helmuth create the first costume. Helmuth said he served as the first HRM: “the headgear was intoxicating and I couldn’t find anyone to wear it.” This first incarnation became known as the “wimpy” lion.

Rob French ‘84 becomes HRM for the next three years. One night, “there was a disagreement between our cheerleaders and Bridgewater’s. I went over to apologize and they pulled my tail!” 

1984: HRM is reborn as a professionally made costume with string hair.

1988: A new Herm enters the scene with a mane of blue and white feathers.

1994: The athletics department commissions artist Henry Gomez to rebrand Herm, but “its rippling muscles and grimacing expression created controversy in the department,” according to The Weather Vane.

1995–97: Herm is mysteriously absent … gap years, perhaps?

1998: The “sleek blue lion” Herm, designed by EMU communications staffer Wendell Esbenshade, begins its 22-year reign. Director of alumni and parent relations Janet Stutzman purchases the new costume on behalf of the alumni club “the Loyal Royals.”

2000: Among other highlights, Herm hands out balloons at the dedication ceremony for the opening of University Commons.

2009: The Feather Brain reports that Herm is suspended indefinitely for fraternizing with a rival mascot – the Bridgewater Lady Eagle – in “late night roller [rink] escapades.”

April 2020: Herm announces his retirement saying, “my speed and agility are no longer a match for today’s athletes, and with my limited tech skills I have fallen behind in my abilities to stay ‘hip’ with our student
body … I feel the time has come for me to walk away from the Royal throne and pass the torch to the next Loyal Lion in line for EMU.”

Many thanks to Ashley Kishorn, field hockey head coach, and Les Helmuth, former alumni relations director, for their contributions to this history.