Bye-Bye Blackbirds, Hello Sharks at LIU
Brooklyn and Post athletic departments reveal new nickname
“What’s in a name?” Juliet Capulet pondered in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
According to the new “One LIU” initiative, a bit of “strength, resolve and brilliance.”
At least that’s what the Athletics Department at Long Island University is claiming in its continued pursuit of further unifying the Brooklyn and C.W. Post campuses by eschewing the schools’ long-standing mascot names in favor of the Sharks, as announced Wednesday evening.
“Long Island University students and alumni took the opportunity to set a distinct path by choosing the fearsome Shark as our mascot,” LIU Director of Athletics Debbie DeJong said in a school-issued statement after the LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds and LIU-Post Pioneers combined to form the LIU Sharks.
“As we elevate LIU’s campuses into a single, stronger, Division I program, we will join together proudly as Sharks,” added DeJong.
Following a survey of students and alumni, along with plenty of criticism from old-school traditionalists, the fearsome Shark was selected as the singular mascot for both LIUs.
Voting on the new nickname took place between April 23 and May 14, giving current and former students a chance to weight in on the change.
The Sharks beat out the Eagles and Falcons in the final vote between the three finalists.
“[The film] Jaws made us fear the shark, and television shows like Shark Tank, Shark Week, and Sharknado are staples of popular culture,” the school’s official statement went on.
“Long Island University is the first NCAA Division I program on the East Coast to make the Shark its mascot. … The shark is an animal which embodies strength, resolve, and brilliance, all of which characterize the spirit of LIU and the individuals who comprise our extraordinary University.”
The announcement that the two schools would combine their athletic programs into a single Division I program came down last October, signifying an end to the LIU-Brooklyn era, which began in 1926.
The Post campus, founded in 1954, will now host most of the athletic teams that used to compete here in Brooklyn on its Brookville, N.Y. campus, though the Sharks’ men’s basketball program will still by based in our fair borough.
“Long Island University is a nationally recognized teaching and research institution,” said LIU President Kimberly R. Cline.
“We understand the importance of athletics in enhancing our brand nationwide by unifying our university community and our 200,000 alumni around the world. Our student-athletes competing at the highest-level plays a major role in this. We are extremely pleased that the NCAA has embraced this vision for our university’s future.”
Between the two campuses, LIU athletics has produced 23 national championships, 215 conference titles and 362 All-Americans.
In addition to the change in nickname and the relocation of several Brooklyn-based athletics programs, LIU has also added Division I football, men’s lacrosse and men’s cross-country beginning in September, when the new team colors – Blue and Gold – officially go into effect.
“With the announcement of the LIU unification, we are excited about the future of LIU Athletics and the NEC.” NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris noted.
Over at St. Francis College, Dana DiRenzo, a senior co-captain on the women’s basketball team, made history this week by being named the diminutive Downtown school’s co-valedictorian, alongside Arianna Sartzetakis.
DiRenzo, who was recruited out of St. Joseph’s High School in New Jersey by former SFC Brooklyn head women’s basketball coach John Thurston, joined Sartzetakis in finishing her MS degree in accounting with a flawless 4.0 GPA.
“It was always a goal of mine [to be SFC valedictorian]” admitted DiRenzo, who also won the top academic honor following her senior year at St. Joseph’s.
“When my former basketball coach [Thurston] was recruiting me, he said ‘I’m going to offer you a scholarship, but you have to make sure you finish as valedictorian.'”
And she did, as well as playing under Thurston for three years before new head coach Linda Cimino came in last May and helped guide DiRenzo and her teammates to a huge bounce-back season in which the program won 18 games, including 12 in NEC play.
“We’re incredibly proud of Dana for earning this prestigious honor and congratulate her on an accomplished career here at St. Francis College,” said Cimino.
“Being named co-valedictorian is a testament to her hard work as a true student-athlete. We are very happy for her and wish her continued success.”
DiRenzo was also named SFC’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year last month and was elected Student Athletic Advisory Committee Treasure for two years. She served as the Vice President of the Duns Scotus Honor Society as well during her four very productive years on Remsen Street.
Though her academic brilliance is unquestionable, DiRenzo still enjoys competing athletically and intends to pursue basketball professionally overseas before deciding on a career.
“I would really like to play overseas next year,” she said. “But then after that I want to get my CPA and then I was thinking about law school.”
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