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Tommie-Johnnie T-shirts selling quickly

By , Reporter  |  Wednesday, October 14, 2009 11:20 PM

With Saturday’s football game against St. John’s approaching, the excitement and preparation stretches far beyond coach Glenn Caruso and the team’s practice.

As in years past, students have designed Tommie-Johnnie T-shirts, hoping the shirts will serve as extra school pride and smack talk toward the Johnnies.

The Tommie-Johnnie shirts are a student tradition for the MIAC rivalry game, with designs ranging from poking fun at St. John’s for being an all-male school or just showing Tommie pride with a witty remark and this year is no different. Numerous shirts are available for students to buy and wear as they travel to Collegeville for the big game.

‘Only you can prevent sobriety’

Junior Matt Scott created a shirt showing the Tommie mascot holding a red party cup above his head with lettering that reads, “Only you can prevent sobriety.”

“I wanted to make a logo with more of a fierce looking Tommie,” Scott said. “I’ve never been excited about our mascot. He kind of always looks really timid and really happy and waving a flag. If you look at other colleges, [their mascots are] a little more fierce and intimidating.”

Scott said he enjoys getting fired up for the game as if it had a Division-I atmosphere.

“I really like how they used the Tommie mascot on the shirt,” senior Ben Nessan said. “It just stood out more than most of the other ones that I saw.”

Scott ordered about 400 shirts and said he hopes he can sell them all before the game Saturday. He sold the shirts for $15 each in front of the library on Tuesday, and by Wednesday, his Facebook group advertising the shirts had 427 members.

“I’ll probably be making more off of this than I did all summer working,” Scott said.

‘Thank God for St. Ben’s’

Juniors Kevin Walker and Mike Alstad have created the shirt that, according to their Facebook group’s title, is “the real 2009 Tommie-Johnnie T-Shirt.”

The purple shirt features a picture of Jesus on the front with bold, white lettering below it, reading “Thank God for St. Ben’s.” The back reads, “We needed a place to put all the ugly girls.”

Alstad designed the shirt he and Walker decided to create.

Walker created the Facebook group after ordering 300 shirts, and within a few days, 200 were sold. With sales going quickly, the two creators ordered another 150 shirts, and as of Wednesday night, only have 50 shirts left.

“Sales are going quick,” Walker said. “I do not think that anyone else has sold as many shirts as us.”

Walker said their shirt may be the most popular, but he added that others deserve some attention too.

“We think that the sweetest one is the one with the tomcat on it,” Walker said. “That is more of a homecoming shirt and a casual everyday wear, whereas ours is more of a St. John’s game shirt.”

Evolution of a Tommie

The creators behind an evolution-based shirt declined to comment, but their design is one of this year’s most popular shirts, based on student feedback.

The shirt is two-sided, with the front in purple and the evolution of man, a Tommie, printed on it. In the display, a chimpanzee evolves into a man and eventually into a football player.

The back is in red and shows the evolution of a Johnnie — a chimp progressing into a man again, but instead of a tall-standing football player, he is bent over in front of the evolved man from the front of the shirt.

With more than 200 members in the Facebook group, sales seem to be going fine.

“This shirt just seemed like a shirt I would wear more than just the Saturday of the game,” senior Emily May said. “It was simple but hilarious, and I really liked the purple on the front and the red on the back.”

Senior football player Josh Ostrue said he has seen a variety of shirts but has not bought one himself.

“I feel there are less shirts this year than in years past,” Ostrue said. “It seems like people are more hyped up about the game itself than anything else.”

Brian Matthews can be reached at bsmatthews@stthomas.edu

This item was posted in Diversions and has 1 comment so far.

1 Comment

  1. Carrie Vandelac
    Oct. 15, 2009 4:43 PM

    Once again, it’s that time of year when Tommie-Johnnie rivalry is in the air. Students from both St. Thomas and CSB.SJU are getting excited for the game and enjoying the pre-game school spirit. But is it really school spirit? I believe the tradition of the Tommie-Johnnie game t-shirts has gone too far. For example, in order to put down the St. John’s football team, St. Thomas students always seem to resort to degrading St. Ben’s. To be clear, the students at the College of Saint Benedict are not St. John’s students “women” or “property.” And unless Tommies are trying to say that Bennies belong to Johnnies by virtue of being women, the connection between St. Ben’s and Johnnie football is unclear. More importantly than the lack of connection between the put-downs and football, they are misogynist and cultivate gender-based violence. While we often assume the misogyny to come from men, this simply is not the case here. A note to St. Thomas women: In a world where women aren’t valued enough already, why do we separate ourselves instead of standing together?

    These t-shirts do not serve as “extra school pride,” but as indication of the naïve, discriminatory culture that college students live in.

    CSB.SJU students, faculty, and staff are having many discussions about the student-led t-shirts this year (the back of the shirts say: Tommies going down on the field and each other since 1885), and many people are starting to critically think about the message they are sending with what they wear. I know of many people who decided not to purchase a shirt after having these discussions because they are discriminating against people who are homosexual.

    While we’re not all on the same page at CSB.SJU, I hope St. Thomas joins in on our conversation. I hope that we can all recognize what message we’re sending with our t-shirts, and start to live up to higher standards.

    Stand up against discrimination and misogyny, St. Thomas, and be the moral leaders that your school says you are- in all aspects of your lives.

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