Every sports team has a mascot, however, not all have a symbol. The Green Bay Packers have the cheese hats, the Detroit Red Wings fans throw octopi onto the ice, and the Pittsburg Steelers have “The Terrible Towel.” Some symbols might have deep meaning while others might make no sense at all. ENC had one back in the day that made no sense at all, but was dearly loved and extremely missed by the student body: the infamous ENC Buoy.
Yes, that’s right, a buoy, the kind that goes in the ocean. This prop became an ENC staple, especially at home basketball games. The tradition started back in 2013 with a couple of creative freshmen and a wild road trip. During Monte Weaver’s freshman year, one of his friends was traveling back from Maine over the weekend and supposedly drove over the buoy. Later, while inspecting the vehicle for damage, they found the buoy lodged under his car front bumper, and the buoy came to be Weaver’s.
Flash forward a couple of months and the Men’s Basketball team is in the playoffs. The Lion’s Den, ENC’s student section, was packed and they wanted to bring as many props as they could, the more outrageous, the better. So, they did. In the craziness of the student section, the buoy was introduced. No one knew how big it would become.
“I don’t know why it became a thing, but it did,” said Weaver (’16). This buoy was not at all related to the mascot, school, or team in any way, but it brought joy and excitement to the Lion’s Den student section.
To the dismay of Weaver and many other beloved fans of the buoy, it was suddenly banned from basketball games during the 2016 season. Monte’s senior year, just 3 years after the debut of the buoy, the pep it brought to many memorable basketball games would be erased. “The buoy was considered ‘dangerous’ and that we wouldn’t be able to have it with us in the stands,” Weaver explains. Their symbol of spirit and randomness had quickly been stripped from the Lion’s Den. The ENC community was very frustrated with this decision as it happened right before a playoff game and #freethebuoy began trending on Twitter and chanted during games by the student section.
The following day after the game, fellow buoy fanatic Tyler Spencer (’16), along with Weaver, went to talk to Athletic Director Dr. Brad Zarges about this issue. They made a deal that the buoy could be displayed at the top of the student section but not held by students like usual. They were disappointed, but they’d rather have that than nothing.
At the last regular-season home game, they held a “passing of the buoy” ceremony to a deserving freshman; Danny Blue (’19). Years after, the following classes may not have had the same connection to the buoy as the Class of ’16 and the buoy eventually retired, however, the legend lives on.
The current holder of the buoy and Director of Recreational Life, Quinn Smith (’21), makes sure that it still makes playoff appearances and brings the Lion’s Den back to life. Every sports team has different traditions that make their experience unique. The strange, random buoy was just that to ENC. While it may not be what it once was, the buoy’s spirit lives on in the ones who cherished it.