Liberty Flames Mascot History

    Liberty hit the national spotlight this season, getting an NY6 invite and finishing No. 25. Get to know the history behind the Flames' mascot.

    Liberty football is coming off the best season they’ve had in 50 years on the gridiron, soaring to a 13-1 record and a No. 25 finish in the final AP poll. While Liberty jumped into the national spotlight, its mascot, the Flames, ignited the curiosity of those unfamiliar with the private Baptist university in Lynchburg, Virginia.

    While the Flames are burning bright in CUSA, let’s take a deep dive into their mascot’s history.

    Who (or What) Is the Flames’ Mascot?

    Instead of a live flame due to obvious fire hazards, Liberty adopted a costume eagle to represent the school at games in 1977. The first eagle was named Lou to mimic the sound of the school’s initial’s, LU, but it was changed to Sparky to match the theme of the Flames nickname.

    An eagle was chosen in concurrence with the patriotic symbolism of the school’s name. The look of the costume has remained an eagle but has changed drastically throughout the years.

    The first version had a fake torch and flame in its talon to represent the Flames’ nickname, with tall, lanky legs and an angry face meant to invoke intimidation. The school decided on a friendlier look for kids to enjoy come the turn of the century with a rounder face featuring a smile.

    While the eagle itself has direct correlations to the school’s patriotic name, the nickname Flames is connected to Liberty’s religious ties.

    Why Is Flames the Mascot?

    Liberty was founded in 1971 by Jerry Falwell Sr., a Baptist preacher and televangelist, as a private evangelical Christian University. While academics were at the forefront of the school’s mission, achieving a reputation through athletics was a catalyst for the inception of the University.

    “We feel that through athletics we can glorify Christ and capture the attention of America’s young people in a very significant way,” Falwell said to the LA Times in 1985.

    “Our dream is to get first refusal on most of the blue-chip evangelical athletes.”

    In 1974, the student body voted to use the Flames to represent the school based on the University’s motto, known as “Knowledge Aflame.”

    “Our motto is ‘Knowledge Aflame,’ which signifies our commitment to providing a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation,” from a post on the school’s website.

    Liberty University changed its name to Liberty Baptist College in 1976, and changed its colors from green and gold to red, white, and blue.

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    The school changed back to Liberty University but kept the new red, white, and blue color scheme to further the patriotic theme. Even while the name of the school itself changed, the nickname has remained the Flames.

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