Lakers will change name to Sawyers for one day

two people shaking hands Louie the Laker standing
Keri Becker, director of athletics, and President Thomas J. Haas sign a proclamation about the name change, while Louie the Laker wonders why.
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts
sawyers logo
Image Credit: courtesy photo
sawyers logo with lumberjack
Image Credit: courtesy photo

With a nod to history, the Grand Valley State Lakers will change their team name to the Sawyers on February 23 when the women's and men's basketball teams host Michigan Tech.

Keri Becker, director of athletics, said uniforms, logos and the mascot will feature the Sawyers during the fauxback games set for 1 and 3 p.m. in the Fieldhouse Arena on the Allendale Campus.

"We love Louie the Laker, but the logo and images created for these games recall a time in the university's history before Grand Valley established men's and women's basketball teams," Becker said.

What is a Sawyer? A sawyer is a lumberjack, someone who saws wood.

Why the Sawyers? In 1965, Grand Valley leaders asked the public to help choose a mascot; students would vote from six final names — Bruisers, Warriors, Bluejays, Ottawas, Archers and Voyagers. A late write-in vote, Lakers, was submitted by student Annie Kate McDonald. The Lakers won by 11 votes. In 1969, there was a push by students to change the mascot and proposed names included Sawyers. By that year, Grand Valley's eight athletic teams had uniforms printed with "Lakers" and support for the name change died down.

Sawyers t-shirts and other merchandise will be available to purchase in January. 

President Thomas J. Haas joined Becker to announce the name change; he said it offers an opportunity for a history lesson for students and fans.

"Logging was a big industry in Michigan in the early 19th century," Haas said. "People may not know that West Michigan had nearly 50 sawmills in the late 1800s, so there were plenty of Sawyers around."