The history of Newman University’s mascot

Sep 10, 2018
Marilyn Nguyen
Marilyn Nguyen with Johnny Jet

From different names to a changing campus landscape, Newman University has had many changes in its history — including that of the university mascot.

Before Johnny Jet, Newman University’s mascot was the Jet Bird beginning in the early ’70s. With a red pilot hat and blue satin beak, Jet Bird led the crowd with energy until his retirement. And then the Newman Jets were left without a mascot.

Jet Bird.
Jet Bird was Newman’s mascot beginning in the early 70s.

The hunt for a new mascot began in 2007 with a special committee. The committee knew that they did not want to go back to Jet Bird; instead, they wanted to use more of a pilot theme to create this character.

“After getting sketches and opinions across campus, we had a company sketch out some ideas for us,” Maureen Rohleder, associate athletic director, explained.

Two of the ideas presented was an intimidating and rather mean-looking bomber pilot and a regular jet pilot. The committee first chose the bomber pilot to be the new mascot but when presented to the ASC sisters, they thought he was a little too intimidating and asked for a more pleasant face.

The committee asked for another mock-up and finally, a new pilot mascot was born — this time with a happier and more appealing persona.

With a new face, the mascot needed a new name.  A state-wide contest started Sept. 17, 2009 and drew 464 entries.

On Sept. 27, 2009, during the women’s home soccer game, Newman Jet’s biggest fan was introduced.

Johnnie Jet
Johnny Jet flies via helicopter for his grand appearance.

Named for John Henry Cardinal Newman, Johnny Jet flew onto the field via helicopter by DWTA Helicopter Services of Wichita, making his entrance to the tune of  “Danger Zone” with Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., and Director of Athletics Vic Trilli on board.

Today, Johnny Jet can be seen around campus, at games and other events always bringing with him Jet pride and a strong smile.

Watch Johnny Jet’s grand entrance.