We pull back the glass to get an inside look at what’s described as SJC’s original monk.
By Liza Darvin
Tucked between the jerseys, bats, and photographs that fill the cases in the Athletics Hall of Fame in the Sablone Alumni Room, sits a rather simple wooden sculpture. Dubbed “The Original Monk” by a plaque at its base, the figurine is cradling a Bible in two hands and smiling serenely. Even surrounded by other memorabilia, this piece stands out, almost as an archeological find—and in many ways, the keepsake is just that, dating back to the College’s early days as the Monks.
The Monks moniker fits well with the College’s Catholic identity and symbolizes many of the attributes student-athletes strive for: togetherness, self-sacrifices, discipline, and comradeship. Yet, the mascot came to the College purely on happenstance when, in 1970, the former director of athletics, Chris Kiernan, was tasked with starting a varsity division on a shoestring budget. Knowing that the beleaguered Assumption Prep in Worcester, Massachusetts, was soon to close, Kiernan asked to have their old uniforms—jerseys that were emblazoned with the school’s nickname, The Monks.
It obviously stuck, and was an immediate hit with the president at the time, Bernard Currier. So much so, that, during a trip to Ireland shortly thereafter, friends of the College thought to purchase a small, wooden replica of a monk as a souvenir, which sat on Currier’s desk for the remainder of his presidency. Though the official Monks mascot has gone through many interpretations, “The Original Monk” has remained a treasured fixture and symbol for the College’s Athletics Department.
“There is a sense of pride among our students who wear the unique name of Monks on their uniforms,” says Brian Curtin, the College’s athletics director. “The name provides students a unique bond and a sense of strength, both when they compete and when they leave here as alums.”
Saint Joseph’s is the only college team in any NCAA division (I–III) and in any college athletics association (e.g., NAIA, NJCAA, USCAA) with the Monks name.
George Bockus ’88
I wore the jersey and shoes for cross country. They are significant because I wore them in the NCAA Division III National Cross Country Championship held in Holland, Michigan 1987. I finished ninth in the nation, earning All American status. The team finished eighth, the highest and best finish of any SJC cross country team ever.
When I look at these items I think of “team.” I may have had individual honors and achievements, but without the team pushing each other and challenging each other, this is what made me successful and the team successful. We talk with each other daily and encourage each other even now in our everyday lives.
Jesse LaCasse ’03
Coach Sanborn asked me to produce this bat in honor of the 1977 baseball team. The bat is made of White Ash, and the length is 33 inches. The bat does not have a specific model because it was hand-turned and is the only one of its kind.
Baseball has always been a huge part of my life since I was four years old to this day as I still play and coach in Germany. SJC and Will Sanborn play a big part in my baseball knowledge as a player and a coach and where I am today with my bat business and time in Germany.
It was an honor that Coach Sanborn asked me to produce a bat for this team that would enter the SJC hall of fame on the same year I was inducted into the Hall of Fame. I think this particular item means more than a plaque or trophy because it is directly related to the team and handmade by a fellow alumnus. Every aspect of the bat is hand-produced, from cutting the tree to branding the writing into the barrel.