With the temperature outside below zero, the air inside the Meehan Ice Rink wasn’t much warmer as RISD’s ice hockey team, the Nads, faced off against the Narraganset Clams. RISD students were wrapped up in scarves and mittens as they cheered loudly for their skating classmates. And some took turns rallying frozen fans by donning the warmest get-up available: the infamous costume of the team’s well-known mascot Scrotie.
On the ice, the heat was on as the teams battled to control the puck. At the same time, in the stands, Scrotie chased and tackled the opponent’s clam mascot in a heated attempt at procreation, much to the fans’ delight.
Though Scrotie has only been up to his antics for the past 10 years, the Nads have been entertaining RISD students since the first team hit the ice in 1961. The current co-ed team of 16 players includes 10 current undergraduate and graduate students, one faculty member, four RISD alumni and a RISD staff electrician. The team’s co-captainsCarolyn Bubel 12 PH and Hannah Koenig 14 PR welcome the non-student players because they “provide a backbone of talent and support for the Nads, especially when there aren’t enough experienced players in the student body.”
Long-time adjunct faculty member Michael Lye 96 ID is part of that backbone. He first got involved with the Nads as a student in 1993, but after graduation he found that he just couldn’t stay away. “Mostly I just missed the game and the camaraderie of the team,” Lye says.
Such camaraderie is essential to a team that Bubel describes as “the closest thing [that] RISD has to a fraternity.” Whether team members are freshmen or alumni, they learn more than just hockey tips from each other. They’re inspired by peers outside of their major and often end up collaborating on projects, while the adults encourage networking and provide post-graduation advice to their greener teammates. Lye, the oldest RISD graduate on the team, adds, “I’m glad to be able to huff and puff around on the ice with them, and hope to give them something in return – if only a chuckle at my expense.”
Both old and new players are committed to new measures to increase the team’s competitiveness. In the past two years, captains have strengthened the team by hiring a coach and implementing cuts during the tryout process. The current coach,Justin DeSorgher, explains that the team’s “goal is to work hard and have fun... We’re not looking to win the Stanley Cup, but we want to represent RISD positively and provide some quality entertainment for the rest of the community at the school.”
Though The Nads meet on the ice only once a week, their commitment is impressive in light of the workload and expectations at RISD. When that on-ice time is devoted to a game instead of a practice, it allows for a stress-reliever for the fans as well as the players – something everyone at RISD appreciates.
“The Nads are here… to entertain RISD students [and] to give them something that uniquely belongs to them and to the school,” says Koenig, noting the team’s ability to foster a sense of school spirit among the students. She remarks that Even The Nads’s opponents enjoy the “legendary RISD fans,” she says, and are actually disappointed when Scrotie fails to make an appearance at a game.
When both opponent teams and fans love such an unorthodox mascot, you know people are going to leave the rink happy. Says Coach DeSorgher, “If we play hard and enjoy playing hockey – and who wouldn’t? – then it’s been a successful night.”
—Samantha Dempsey 13 IL