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Committee members explain some UND nickname choices

Lowell Schweigert brought up the Wild, the Sooners and the Cornhuskers while he talked about the future of UND's nickname. As a member of the university's nickname committee, he had recently participated in narrowing down thousands of ideas submi...


Lowell Schweigert brought up the Wild, the Sooners and the Cornhuskers while he talked about the future of UND's nickname.

As a member of the university's nickname committee, he had recently participated in narrowing down thousands of ideas submitted by the public to a list of 63 possibilities they will consider as UND's new permanent nickname.

"We have to keep in mind sometimes names do grow with time," he said. "Who would've ever thought that Cornhuskers was going to be a great name, and it is. It's unique, and people across the country, when you mention the Cornhuskers ... they're going to know who it is."

Schweigert approved names "with a broad brush" and said for him, the most important of a new nickname for the school should be that it invokes a sense of pride and emotion.

The school's former Fighting Sioux name was retired in late 2012 after the NCAA threatened sanctions.


Committee members went through more than 1,000 individual nickname ideas and voted quickly yes or no; if even one person gave an idea a green light, it was moved forward for consideration.

The resulting list of 63 names varies widely with some intangible things like "Force," "Spirit," "Fighting Green," and "Pride," while also including 11 variations of "hawks."

A list detailing which committee member had approved individual names was not available by press time, as UND spokesman Peter Johnson said the information technology employee who collected the data was unavailable until June.

Making decisions

Schweigert along with committee members Leander "Russ" McDonald, John Bridewell, Jazmyn Friesz and Chairman Karl Goehring said they used criteria previously decided on by the committee when choosing which names to approve.

The committee decided the school's name needs to be unique, promote pride and fierceness, embody the state and region and unify people.

But some committee members also took other things into consideration during this preliminary step.

Bridewell, a UND professor, said he didn't approve names that were too long or hard to pronounce.


Goehring also served on the university's prior task force that developed the process the committee is using to pick a name and gathered feedback from alumni, students and community members through a survey and open forums.

He said he thought about what he had heard at those meetings when approving names, especially a woman at a meeting in Denver who said she thought the name should be one every person could project their own meaning on to.

"People wanted to be unique as we go forward," he said. "I think it was important the considerations we do have are solely unique and are something that would be solely the university's."

McDonald and Bridewell both approved a form of "Sundogs" and said it was unique to the region.

"It would be marketable," McDonald said. "It would help to identify us at national level."

Bridewell said he favored the intangible choices like "Force of the North" because it is inclusive, though he acknowledged that particular choice conflicted with an existing hockey team in nearby Fargo.

Friesz said she went in knowing she didn't want to approve animal nicknames because they aren't as unique.

"North Stars," one she did move forward, was chosen because it had been submitted multiple times with accompanying comments Friesz saw as passionate.


"A beacon of stability and consistency; symbol of the north and of success," one anonymous submitter wrote. "It's a prominent point that guides people toward their goals," wrote another.

Schweigert, on the other hand, voted for more than one of the variations of "hawk."

"I didn't rule out animals but I've had some opinions from people in the community and my friends who say, 'We don't want to be an animal."


Committee members had varied experiences with the community since the shortened list became public earlier this month.

McDonald said he hadn't heard anything while Goehring and Schweigert had both been approached with a variety of opinions.

"I've had more than one person share 'Maybe I don't like that name so much but I really like that name,'" Goehring said. "As a committee we're going to do our best."

Schweigert said he was listening with an open mind but was looking forward to debate amongst committee members.


Friesz said the people she has talked to have liked at least one name on the list and are excited to see the process moving along quickly, as the university has played as "UND/North Dakota" since the old logo was retired.

"People are saying, 'It's better from the first list, but where are we going to go from here?'" Bridewell said. "I think they're all looking at it trying to figure out which one it's going to be."

McDonald said as the committee continues to meet he has seen the group become closer.

"I think the group is really come together well," he said. "Everybody is dedicated."

The 11-person committee's next meeting hadn't been announced as of Friday. The group plans to assign points to the names at some point to narrow down the list, though it hasn't been decided when that system will come in to play.

After the list is narrowed down further, a public vote will ultimately decide the name. A deadline from UND President Robert Kelley calling for an early May vote has already passed and committee members have said repeatedly they want to take as much time as they need to "do it right."

Bridewell said he looked forward to continuing.

"I think we're all on the same wavelength," he said. "We're simply trying to do the best we can for the community and the state."


List of 63 names

  • Aeronauts
  • Aeros
  • Arctic Blaze
  • Arctic Force
  • Aurora
  • Aviators
  • Badlanders
  • Big Green
  • Bison Slayers
  • Blackhawks
  • Blizzard Dogs
  • Bombardiers
  • Bombers
  • Cavalry
  • Charging Nokota
  • Drillers
  • Explorers
  • Fighting Green
  • Fighting Greens
  • Fighting Green Hawks
  • Fighting Hawks
  • Fighting Sundogs
  • Fire
  • Flame
  • Flames
  • Flickertails
  • Fliers
  • Force
  • Force of North
  • Global Hawks
  • Green Bombers
  • 'Grey Hawks'
  • Night Hawks
  • Night Riders
  • Nighthawks
  • Nodak
  • Nodaks
  • North Dakota
  • North Force
  • North Stars
  • Northern Lights
  • Prarie Hawks
  • Pride
  • Riders
  • roughhriders
  • Snow Leopards
  • Spirit
  • Sundog
  • Sundogs
  • Thunder Hawks
  • Warhawks
  • Warriors
  • Warriors of the North
  • Wings
  • Wooly Mammoth
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