Field unveiled for inaugural Off the Block, TallSlim Tees College Men’s Volleyball Mascot Challenge

The field is set for the tournament to determine the best mascot in college men’s volleyball.

Off the Block announced Friday that the mascots for BYU, Grand Canyon, King, Lewis, Lincoln Memorial, NJIT, Penn State, Tusculum, UC San Diego, USC were all selected to compete in the inaugural Off the Block/TallSlim Tees College Men’s Volleyball Mascot Challenge.

This mascot challenge recognizes some of the best mascots in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball and lets fans determine the champion through online voting on the Off the Block website. In addition, the winning school will receive a $100 donation from Off the Block to be used to help its mascot travel to a road or postseason men’s volleyball match during the 2021 season.

The tournament will begin Tuesday with round-robin play. The top-two teams in each division at the end of the round-robin stage will advance to the semifinals.

The Eastern Division features Abe (Lincoln Memorial), The Highlander (NJIT), Nittany Lion (Penn State), Twister (King) and Zeke (Tusculum). The Western Division includes Bedcheck Charlie (Lewis), Cosmo (BYU), King Triton (UC San Diego), Thunder (Grand Canyon) and Traveler (USC).

The Off the Block staff determined the tournament field for the mascot challenge.

One mascot was selected from each college men’s volleyball conference and the tournament field was rounded out with four at-large bids.

TallSlim Tees, the official sponsor of the mascot challenge, is a clothing store that produces items specifically designed to fit lean and tall individuals. Its online store also offers a wide variety of styles and options ranging from v-neck shirts to dress shirts.

Off the Block is a national award winning website that launched in 2011 and is the nation’s leader in college men’s volleyball coverage.

Mascot challenge schedule

Round-robin matches Day 1 — Tuesday, May 26
Round-robin matches Day 2 — Wednesday, May 27
Round-robin matches Day 3 — Thursday, May 28
Round-robin matches Day 4 — Friday, May 29
Round-robin matches Day 5 — Saturday, May 30
Semifinals — Sunday, May 31 through Monday, June 1
Finals — Tuesday, June 2 through Wednesday, June 3

Divisions

Eastern Division Western Division
Abe (Lincoln Memorial) Bedcheck Charlie (Lewis)
The Highlander (NJIT) Cosmo (BYU)
Nittany Lion (Penn State) King Triton (UC San Diego)
Twister (King) Thunder (Grand Canyon)
Zeke (Tusculum) Traveler (USC)

Abe

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Memorial athletics

School: Lincoln Memorial
Mascot description: President Abraham Lincoln
Established: N/A
Mascot fun fact: A new Abe that is slimmer and slightly taller than the previous version of the mascot was unveiled last year. In the introduction video, the old mascot formally handed off his ax to the new Abe.
Men’s volleyball note: Lincoln Memorial has the right president mascot for volleyball. Lincoln at 6-foot-4, not including his hat, is the tallest president in U.S. history.

Bedcheck Charlie

Photo courtesy of @BedcheckCharlie

School: Lewis
Mascot description: World War I aviator
Established: 1963
Mascot fun fact: Bedcheck Charlie was originally a character in an issue of the comic strip “Steve Canyon.” A Lewis freshman student and a teacher in the 1960s contacted the cartoonist to request permission to use the character as the school’s mascot. The cartoonist approved the request, and Bedcheck Charlie quickly emerged as a symbol of the university and athletics programs.
Men’s volleyball note: Bedcheck Charlie comes dressed for the occasion when attending home matches. He will often wear Lewis men’s volleyball t-shirts under his leather jacket.

Cosmo

Photo courtesy of BYU athletics

School: BYU
Mascot description: Cougar
Established: 1953
Mascot fun fact: BYU used to have live cougars on its sidelines before Cosmo. The school opted to name the new mascot Cosmo to represent the diverse student body.
Men’s volleyball note: Cosmo is often seen pumping up the Smith Fieldhouse crowd during BYU home matches and has been in attendance during the Cougars’ recent NCAA Tournament appearances.

The Highlander

Photo courtesy of NJIT athletics

School: NJIT
Mascot description: 17th century Scotsman
Established: 2008
Mascot fun fact: The Highlander is a 6-foot-4 redhead who always wears his signature kilt and carries a sword and shield while at NJIT home matches. In addition, his favorite type of music is anything that features bagpipes.
Men’s volleyball note: Just like the NJIT men’s volleyball team that led the EIVA in blocks, The Highlander places an emphasis on defense. He is the only mascot in the EIVA to bring a shield to the matches.

Nittany Lion

Photo courtesy of Penn State athletics

School: Penn State
Mascot description: Mountain lion
Established: 1904
Mascot fun fact: Fellow EIVA member Princeton is indirectly responsible for the creation of the Nittany Lion mascot. Princeton before a baseball game showed the Penn State team a statue of the school’s bengal tiger in an attempt of intimidation. A Penn State baseball player impromptuly said the mascotless team was called the Nittany Lions and it was the “fiercest beast of them all.”
Men’s volleyball note: The Nittany Lion has been a fixture at the EIVA Tournament but sometimes he opts to not wear his iconic blue and white scarf with volleyball being an indoor sport.

King Triton

Photo courtesy of UC San Diego athletics

School: UC San Diego
Mascot description: Greek demigod
Established: 1964
Mascot fun fact: UC San Diego opted to be called Tritons because of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and its connections to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
Men’s volleyball note: King Triton not only roams the stands and interacts with fans during UC San Diego home matches but will spend time in the pep band section to pump up the musicians.

Thunder

Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon athletics

School: Grand Canyon
Mascot description: Antelope
Established: 1981
Mascot fun fact: Thunder is the second name change for the Grand Canyon mascot — it previously was called Andy the Antelope and then Johnny Lope. In addition, Thunder wears a No. 49 in honor of the school being founded in 1949.
Men’s volleyball note: Grand Canyon men’s volleyball may have two home venues, but that doesn’t prevent Thunder from roaming the sidelines at both Antelope Gymnasium and GCU Arena.

Traveler

Photo courtesy of USC athletics

School: USC
Mascot description: Horse
Established: 1961
Mascot fun fact: The white horse with a Trojan soldier as its ridder is one of the most iconic mascots in college sports. Traveler IX is serving as the current mascot for the Trojans.
Men’s volleyball note: Due to Traveler being a horse, he is unable to be on the sidelines for USC men’s volleyball home matches.

Twister

Photo courtesy of King athletics

School: King
Mascot description: Lion
Established: 2011
Mascot fun fact: King developed an entire backstory for Twister that includes him moving from the jungle to New York City. However, Twister did not enjoy the city and eventually settled in Bristol, Tennessee, working as a musician and pace car driver before convincing the King athletics director to let him be the school’s first mascot.
Men’s volleyball note: Twister always shows up for King’s big home matches. Along with pumping up the crowd, he also makes time to greet the youth volleyball players attending the match.

Zeke

Photo courtesy of Tusculum athletics

School: Tusculum
Mascot description: Pioneer
Established: N/A
Mascot fun fact: Zeke breaks the stereotypes of a pioneer and dresses for all types of occasions. While he typically can be spotted in a plaid shirt with a raccoon hat, Zeke also has a three-piece suit in his wardrobe that he wears on special occasions.
Men’s volleyball note: Zeke had limited opportunities to see the Tusculum men’s volleyball team as it played six home matches before its inaugural season was cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic.