Lionel the lion


Created by Arianna Taylor

This image was created on canva.

Arianna Taylor, Editor in Chief

In 2021, LCHS Football welcomed a new mascot to their team: a 40-pound cement statue of a lion. 

The new social distancing policies that sports teams were forced to follow during Covid-19 didn’t permit the proximity necessary for a team to bond. Head coach Will Patrick recognized that and came up with a new way to build comradery between players. 

“During Covid, I was looking for ways to keep the boys together.” Patrick said. “I didn’t want them showing up and then going home and I told my sister I was looking for a cement statue to make into our little mascot.” 

As the team brainstormed names, they settled on Lionel. The inspiration was from Lion-O, the main superhero of the Thundercats cartoon released in 1985. Patrick wants his players to compare Lionel the statue to Lion-O and use this as inspiration to be a leader. 

“He was a leader that stood up for what’s right,” Patrick said. 

Through Lionel, a tradition was created to reward the athletes willing to take the next step, and not shy from the difficulties they may face. 

“Not everyone gets to rub Lionel,” Patrick said. “It’s for the guys that play hard and work together,” 

The players appreciate that Lionel stands for hard work and unification within their program. 

“Before we run out every game we touch it and that’s what a lot of college programs do,” quarterback Landon Wilson said. “it’s a ritual for all of football, it symbolizes that were a team, on the same page, and have the same goals”

Football players jumped in a creek at the Hampden Sydney camp over the summer. They left with a mason jar filled with creek water to commemorate their fun times at camp. 

That mason jar became Lionel’s sidekick as they sit side-by-side during games. 

“Dropping a 40 lb statue on the field and letting it drink water adds to the intimidation factor,” senior Austin Talley said. “Nobody else came to the Hampden Sydney camp, so it represents that we will work harder than other teams.” 

A piece of Lionel’s footstone broke off after a game the Lions lost. Coach Patrick recognized that the breaking of Lionel can be learned from. 

“Whenever we lose a game I write the score on the little piece [that broke].” Patrick said. “It symbolizes that we’re going to try to win all the games, and we win a lot of games. However, the times we do lose, we don’t forget them, I hope we learn from them.”

  Just like the team, Lionel has his faults but the team recognizes it’s important to acknowledge their faults and use it to fuel improvement. 

“It’s a simple statue,” Patrick said. “It has its cracks and missing pieces but at the end of the day it’s still standing, just like our football program”