In 1985, the Kent State Golden Flashes mascot finally found an identity that is still going strong today. However, the journey to find that identity took many twists and turns, as you’re about to discover.
What Is the Kent State Golden Flashes Mascot?
Flash the Golden Eagle is the Golden Flashes mascot. Despite undergoing several aesthetic transformations, the furry costumed golden eagle has been the face of Kent State’s program since 1985.
For a program that has been using the name “Golden Flashes” since 1926, and whose original logo was a lightning bolt, why did Kent State settle on a golden eagle as their mascot?
According to Terry Barnard — the Director of Athletic Marketing and Communications in 1985 — as reported by the Daily Kent Stater, the eagle was chosen because the university wanted something proud, and there is nothing prouder than an eagle.
The Golden Flashes mascot finally established an identity for the program, after a litany of different mascots over a 50-plus-year period prior to the dramatic arrival of Flash the Golden Eagle — more on that shortly.
During the time from the very first Golden Flashes mascot to their current feathered face of the program, the mascot has taken the form of a dog, a horse and rider double act, a caveman named Grog, another dog, then a bizarre sequence of “costumed individuals roaming in attire with lightning bolts.”
The latter held many names, including Freddie Flash, Golden Flash, Flashman, and Captain Flash. Outside of a sporting arena, naming yourself any of those would likely carry a strong possibility of incarceration for presumed crimes.
In their quest to establish a mascot and identity that the program could be proud of, Kent Technology Education Club constructed a plan to reveal what would become “Flash the Golden Eagle,” including an elaborate unveiling.
At the halftime of the 1985 homecoming game, Flash was born unto the world from a giant, multi-material egg, alongside a live eagle counterpart. “Flash” has established himself — he’s always considered a male regardless of the human inhabiting the costume — as an integral part of the program, appearing at over 100 sporting and non-sporting events per year.
Is the Golden Flashes Mascot a Live Animal?
Not anymore, sadly. However, during the long and varied history of the Golden Flashes mascot, there have been multiple live animal mascots that represented Kent State at college football games and the other sports played by the program.
The first Golden Flashes mascot was the fantastically, yet troublingly named “Golden Flasher.” No, it wasn’t a deviant dressed in a trench coat, it was an adorable golden retriever puppy gifted to the program. Sporting a cape of the program’s colors, the pooch prowled the stadium sidelines for the best part of a decade.
After ditching the dog in the 1960s, the Golden Flashes mascot returned to animal form in the 1970s. The original name returned too, except this time “Golden Flasher” was a horse who sported a “western-themed” rider on its back.
As the ’70s turned into the 1980s, a golden retriever returned as the Golden Flashes mascot. This time, the dog was named “MAC the Flash” — perhaps in homage to the Mid-American Conference that the program has participated in since 1962.
The final live animal Golden Flashes mascot was a golden eagle, which was introduced at the same time as the current costumed mascot, with the two co-existing until the mid-1990s. An attempt to return to the tradition in 2008 was curtailed after complaints led to a letter from PETA urging the program to stop.
Was Kent State Always the Golden Flashes?
No. Although the program has been referred to as the Golden Flashes since the late 1920s — with Flash the Golden Eagle as Kent State’s mascot since 1985 — they were originally known as the Kent State Silver Foxes from 1923 to 1926.
According to Kent State History and Traditions, the name came from the silver fox ranch that was co-owned by then president of the university, John McGilvrey. Once he departed, the new president held a competition to find a new nickname for the program where Golden Flashes beat out their existing game, hurricanes, and warriors as potential options.