The Origins of the Grenadier

Remembering the past while looking toward the future


Photo courtesy of IU Southeast Athletics

Joshua Roy, Staff Reporter

In the United States, only one college has a grenadier as its mascot — IU Southeast. But what is a grenadier?

To answer the question, a grenadier is an “elite Revolutionary War soldier, much like the contemporary green berets,” according to a 1973 issue of IU southeast’s former newspaper, The Student.

The half page article by Tom Hays covered the story of how the name Grenadiers was chosen. Under the leadership of the Image Task Force, a school-wide poll was sent out on what new mascot would replace the cougars, their mascot at the time. The four choices on the ballot, submitted by staff and students, included the Grenadiers, the River Rats, the Streamers and the Copperheads. Only around 150 students in the school ended up voting for a new mascot, with Grenadiers coming in first, and The Streamers coming in second.

According to the article, Dr. Gerald Haffner, a history professor at the time, suggested the name because grenadiers are “brave, agile, strong, dashing.” He also believed the name “Grant Line Grenadiers” would catch on because of IU Southeast’s location on Grant Line Road.

The final decision was left up to Chancellor Edwin Crooks, who said IU Southeast would use the new name, but it would be solidified with the passing of time. Previous mascots at other IU campuses had nicknames that weren’t popular enough to stick, and only the years to come would be able to determine if the name was popular enough to stay.

Over forty years later, the Grenadier is still the IUS mascot. According to, a professional mascot was purchased in 2008 and another vote was taken for what he should be called. The students decided on the name Gus the Grenadier as the official name of the IU Southeast mascot.

Gus the Grenadier has gone through a few changes through the years, with three different versions being used up to the present. However, the values of the original grenadier are still present.

Joe Glover, the director of athletics at IU Southeast, commented on how he believed The Grenadier fits our campus.

“I think it plays well for us, I’m a marketing guy and so the brand recognition is always something I think about and it’s unique,” Glover said. “If it’s unique in marketing, you can make it your own. I think what we need to do a better job of is making it our own… make it a cohesive part of who we are.”

Currently, the athletics department is working on rebranding Gus the Grenadier once again.

“We’re doing some old and new, and I think when it’s all said and done it will come across very well,” Glover said.

There has been a great amount of effort put in to bring back some of the Grenadiers’ classic look from the 70’s and 80’s when our school colors were red, white, and blue. According to the IU southeast athletics page, “In December of 2006, the Board of Trustees voted to adopt the IU Integrated Image Study which changed the official IU Southeast school colors to Crimson and Cream.” A new logo with the saber of the old grenadier is being developed, as well as an updated crest of the present grenadier to be painted on the floor of the gym.

Along with the logo, the school is also making changes to the physical mascot. Christy Thomas, a member of the Grenadier advisory board, talked about problems IU Southeast has had in the past with the costume. 

“In the last couple years the mascot has moved from office to office… we made a group of folks on campus who had an interest in Gus and everyone was coming up with different times we would need an appearance, and what was the best way to get someone in the costume.” Thomas said.

The new committee is responsible for making sure Gus the Grenadier makes appearances. They are pushing for a more consistent mascot with a specific schedule of games and events. The Grenadier advisory board has also been allowed to offer scholarships for two students who would be willing to dress up. One would be the one dressing up in the costume while the other would be their handler. The handlers job is to be there to help the person fit into the costume or fill in for them if they ever get sick or injured.

“We have worked through some things and now we have a scholarship for the person who’s in the costume and for somebody to be a handler,” Thomas said. “This semester is the first one where we’re sending out emails to potential students that can apply.”