Stags, Peacocks, Hawks, Saints and Bobcats, to name a few, line the MAAC conference as mascots, while Manhattan College has clung to something much more unique.
This mascot is a Jasper.
What the term Jasper represents is often under question by students who attend Manhattan College, but especially by those who do not.
Junior athletes Emma Saul (soccer) and Richie Barrella (baseball) commented on the topic, as did Morgan Graziano, a former basketball player and current student at MC.
“[A Jasper is] definitely more of a minority compared to other schools, not often do schools have mascots based off of historical figures,” said Saul.
A Jasper is empowering and determined, according to Barrella.
“Not many people know what a Jasper is, which makes being a Jasper empowering and unique,” said Barrella. “It’s not like being a Stag, Bobcat or a Fox where you and other teams have similar characteristics and logos.
“With the uniforms also stating ‘Manhattan’, we play with heart and determination to represent not only the greatest city, but the greatest school, for people to remember who the Jaspers are.”
GoJaspers, the official website for athletics at Manhattan College, provides the following information describing exactly what a Jasper stands for.
“The unique nickname of Manhattan College’s athletic teams, the Jaspers, comes from one of the College’s most memorable figures, Brother Jasper of Mary, F.S.C., who served at the College in the late 19th century,” read GoJaspers.
The website continues to share a few interesting facts about Brother Jasper himself, and what allowed him to earn such high recognition.
“During years at Manhattan, [Brother Jasper] founded the school’s first band, orchestra, glee club, various literary clubs, and became the school’s first athletic director,” read GoJaspers.
Not only was Brother Jasper the first athletic director at the College, but his legacy lives on in the hearts of all baseball fans, according to GoJaspers.
“One of the greatest achievements of Brother Jasper was that he brought the then little-known sport of baseball to Manhattan College and became the team’s first coach…During one particularly warm and humid day…Brother Jasper noticed the Manhattan students were becoming restless and edgy as Manhattan came to bat in the seventh inning of a close game,” read GoJaspers.
The story continued.
“To relieve the tension, Brother Jasper called time-out and told the students to stand up and stretch for a few minutes until the game resumed… The Manhattan College practice of the seventh inning stretch spread into the major leagues, where it has now become a time-honored custom practiced by millions of fans.”
Barella and Graziano have their own versions of the same story.
“The story of Brother Jasper will forever be imbedded in my head,” said Barrella. “Brother Jasper was the first athletic director and baseball coach here at Manhattan College, while also being responsible for keeping the fans excited in each game. He realized that during the seventh inning of each game the fans would become restless.”
Barrella continued, as his genuine interest in baseball and the school’s mascot poured.
“To lighten the mood and regain the interests, Brother Jasper decided to stop the game and go to the student section and let them stand up and stretch for a little bit to get the blood flowing again,” Barrella said. “Ultimately creating the seventh inning stretch, which is now a tradition throughout every Major League Baseball stadium. Because of Brother Jasper’s grit as a coach, and commitment to the students, Manhattan adopted the Jaspers as the school’s mascot.”
Graziano added that when people ask her ‘what’s a Jasper?’, they are usually rather intrigued.
“I’ve been asked [‘what’s a Jasper?’] a ton of times,” Graziano said. “I usually answer by telling them about Brother Jasper and how he was the first athletic director here at Manhattan, but I also tell people that he came up with baseball’s seventh inning stretch and they usually find that pretty interesting.”
When it comes time to explain the meaning being the mascot to outsiders or opposing teams, Jaspers have a field day.
“I’ll even get asked what a Jasper is mid-game, and at that point I just say ‘he was an old Irish Brother who founded Manhattan sports,’” said Barrella. “When I’m not mid-game I’ll take the time and explain the seventh inning stretch story, but overall, I get plenty of people asking me what a Jasper is.”
Saul chimed in as well.
“A lot of the time it is used to taunt athletes on the field or as a joke, ‘please tell us what a Jasper is?’ or ‘what even is a Jasper?,” said Saul. “To be honest it is a great topic of conversation or small talk with people or a question in job interviews. If people know the school, you’re guaranteed to get the question ‘so tell me, what is a Jasper?’”
The question, ‘what’s a Jasper?’ is now officially answered, but athletes on campus have their own stories and thoughts on what it means to be a Jasper on the field, on the court, in the classroom or wherever else.
“Being a Jasper has great correlation with what our school truly represents,” said Saul. “As student-athletes we are constantly the main representatives of our school, we are responsible for illustrating our school’s mission and values. As Jaspers we definitely are an inclusive community…We celebrate diversity and welcome all members to our community.”
Barrella’s thoughts on what it means to be Jasper differed, while positivity behind the name remained consistent.
“[A Jasper represents] grit,” said Barrella. “The Jaspers are the grittiest athletes in the Northeast. You can expect every Jasper to grind and muscle through any hardship put in their way, while always maintaining a positive and encouraging mentality.”
Graziano may have stepped away from the court, but her opinions of what it means to be a Jasper are still sky high.
“As a former student-athlete here at Manhattan, being a Jasper represents being part of something bigger than yourself,” said Graziano. “We go to a college that’s a close knit community full of hard-working students whether they are athletes or not. There are many kids at this school who are doing some pretty cool things in and out of the classroom or on and off the court or field. It goes to show that being a Jasper stands for being an overall hardworking individual.”
The College’s official mascot, a Jasper, is one of kind, despite having no physical presence. Student athletes see this truth as a non-issue.
“From my own experience, when going to the MAAC tournament, our pep band, cheerleaders and dancers make up for not having a mascot,” said Graziano. “They make signs and bring so much energy. One of my friends from home is a cheerleader at Fairfield and even texted me once after hearing our band…[she told] me how awesome they sound.”
If a Jasper mascot were to physically walk around at games, Barrella has thoughts on what it might look like.
“If I were to choose what the Manhattan Jaspers mascot would look like, I would go with Brother Jasper, but as a superhero,” Barrella said. “He would be all decked out in green and white, a cape, a green mask covering part of his face and a huge cane-like flag that says ‘Go Jaspers’ on it. I think that a superhero Brother Jasper will get the fans excited with his electric personality while bringing the community together by having him at campus wide events.”