The unofficial history of Herm, EMU’s mascot

The new incarnation of the Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) Royals mascot will make his first appearance Friday, Oct. 16, at 7:30 on Facebook Live during Homecoming weekend. He’s coming to fill some (literally) large shoes left behind by the “sleek blue” Herm that Royals have come to know and love for 22 years.

But the history of Herm begins well before this passing of the torch – the Herm unveiled this October will be the fifth loyal lion to take to the court, fields, and campus-at-large. Read on to learn how our very own, very loveable Panthera leo came to be.

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

March 1980 

  •  Eastern Mennonite College basketball coach Sherman Eberly ’68 says in a Weather Vane article 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.


  • Alumni relations director Les Helmuth ’78 holds a student competition to create a cartoon mascot for the Eastern Mennonite College Royals. 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 iteration of the Herm costume. Helmuth said he served as the first HRM as “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!” 


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


  • A new and improved “Herm” enters the scene with a mane of blue and white feathers. “That was a flea-bitten old thing,” said Professor Lester Zook. “Every time it would run across the gym, those feathers would fly. It was almost embarrassing.” 


  • The athletics department commissions artist Henry Gomez to rebrand Herm, but “its rippling muscles and grimacing expression created controversy in the department,” The Weather Vane reported in a November 2000 article.

1995 – 1997

  • Herm is mysteriously absent … gap years, perhaps?


  • The “sleek blue lion” Herm, designed by EMU communications staffer Wendell Esbenshade, begins its 22-year reign over EMU’s athletics facilities after appearing on the basketball court. Director of alumni and parent relations Janet Stutzman purchases the new costume on behalf of the alumni club “the Loyal Royals.” 

Fall 2000

  • First-year student Rebecca Shimp, as Herm, hands out balloons at the dedication ceremony for the newly-constructed University Commons. “Those big fuzzy feet are hard to manage,” Shimp says.

January 2002

February 2008

  • Herm is named “player of the week” in The Weather Vane. “Herm can usually be seen dancing on the sidelines, goofing around with a referee, or running up and down the sidelines, all to encourage the fans to cheer on their Royals,” Sunil Dick ’08 wrote.

April 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”

November 2012

October 2013

  • Herm leads a passing of the torch ceremony to open the annual ResLife Olympics, in which dormitories compete against one another in “extreme” musical chairs, “Ninja” dodgeball, and soccer. Parkwoods wins this year for the third time in a row.

April 2017

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.”

October 2020

  • Herm the Fifth begins his tenure as the EMU Royals mascot.

Discussion on “The unofficial history of Herm, EMU’s mascot

  1. I was at EMC during the “flea bitten Herm” days. My daughter, who is a HS senior, said she would DEFINITELY go to EMU if the mascot was an emu!
    -Tonya King Martin

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