While Saint Mary's College has had various athletic offerings for students from its beginning, it was not until the dedication of Angela Athletic Facility in September 1977 that the College had a formal nickname. Dr. John M. Duggan, President of the College from 1975 to 1985, made the announcement in conjunction with the dedication of Angela Athletic Facility that the winning name by a student vote from the three nominations – Saints, Belles, and Angels – was the Belles. Dr. Duggan added that the name of Belles was appropriate for the College and her students as Saint Mary’s women had "lady-like charm and appeal" as well as a "cast iron will to win".
In 1995, there was a vote put forth by the student body to decide on keeping or scrapping the Belles nickname. Once again, Belles was the majority winner.
Over the years, the College and the athletic department have embraced what is known as the French Cross as a symbolic representation of the history, tradition, and founding of the College. It is a symbol prominently located on campus signs, in buildings, on the College ring and in the College seal, and on Saint Mary’s athletic uniforms.
Nearly forty years after Dr. Duggan's announcement, our student-athletes were asked what being a Belle meant to them. This is what they had to say:
"I have never witnessed a school so well personified by a 'mascot', nor have I seen students more proud to be called by their name. Being a Belles is a community, sisterhood, a tradition."
"Looking back over my four years as a college athlete, I cannot count how many times people have approached my team and complimented us for being Saint Mary's women. All it took was our two-inch French Cross with three words underneath: Saint Mary’s College."
"We represent Saint Mary's College as the Belles and carry on the tradition of the women who have come before us and the women who have yet to come. Each day, I look at the ring on my hand and think of the sisterhood and tradition that the Saint Mary's Belles have created. This sisterhood, tradition, and legacy are critical parts of the success of Saint Mary’s College."
"A Belle is classy, independent, strong, intelligent, faith-filled, and iron-willed."
"A Belle is much more than a mascot; it is a tradition, a strength found in countless women around the world who know what it means to get an education at Saint Mary's College."
Just as there is no one definition of a Saint Mary's woman, there is not one defined image of a Belle. In order to see what a Belle looks like, one only needs to walk on campus and see any Saint Mary's student. From all backgrounds and walks of life, each student at the College is precisely what a Belle is.
Once A Belle, Always A Belle