Do You Know Jack?

Jack the Jackrabbit, that is. JackStands

As I was leaving campus earlier this spring, I had to come to a screeching halt as a jackrabbit ran across the road. As I watched the hare disappear into the arboretum, I wondered how many universities have their mascot truly running around in the wild on campus. My train of thought continued down the rabbit hole, and I started thinking about the state’s most famous jackrabbit. Jack the Jackrabbit is a constant at athletic events, this we all know, but what else do we truly know about him? I made it my mission to find out.

My first stop was athletics.

“If I didn’t know better, I’d say he’s the Energizer Bunny,” said Jonathan Treiber, one of Jack’s friends and personal assistant in addition to his duties as the SDSU director of athletic marketing. “He never takes a break. Birthday parties, weddings, graduations, Jack’s done it all. In fact, Jack was asked to hop over to a wedding reception last fall. He danced his tail off jitterbugging and break dancing. It takes a lot of stamina to keep up that kind of pace, so I set him up with Moe.”

Nate Moe is the assistant athletic director for strength and conditioning. He’s well-known around campus for keeping SDSU student-athletes in prime condition. I checked in with him regarding Jack’s training schedule.

“I had no idea how to train a jackrabbit,” Moe said. “He refused to do any squats and when I’d bring him to the bench press, he just shook his head at me. I had to design a program specific to him that included tightrope walking, extricating himself from the bottom of a dogpile and bench pressing children. Lately, he’s been wanting to crush carrots, but I don’t know what that’s all about.”

As I walked back to my office trying to figure out Moe’s carrot remark, I ran into Anna Chicoine, the Grand Pooba for this year’s Hobo Day celebration, and asked her about Jack.

“Jack is always a favorite at Hobo Day. When the crowd sees him coming down the street, they go crazy, especially the kids,” she said. “He pesters me regularly about driving the Bummobile, but he’s failed the driver’s test 37 times! There’s no way I can give him the keys. Although that hasn’t stopped him from driving a scooter around town.”

Hearing that Jack had yet to pass the driving test, I started wondering about his academic pursuits, so I stopped into Student Affairs to see what they could tell me.

“Jack is a university icon,” said Doug Wermedal, associate vice president for student affairs. “He bypassed high school and came straight to South Dakota State via the little-used mascot entry rule. Currently I believe Jack is taking some online courses and rumor has it that he’s looking for a study abroad opportunity. I know he was really interested in dairy production or dairy manufacturing a few years ago, wanting a hands-on role learning how to expand our ‘Jack’ cheese lines. However, you better talk to someone in that department for those details.”

Seeing another long line at the Dairy Bar, I decided to see if anyone else knows about Jack’s wishes to study in another country.

“Oh, we’re well acquainted with Jack,” said Sally Gillman, director of study abroad. “He’s applied for his passport and is determined to study on Easter Island of all places to further his education in nutrition. I love all the questions he writes on Post-it notes and leaves on my office door each night.”

Nonetheless, according to his personal photographer (every famous mascot has one), Jack has been known to travel across the state. He has been spotted at Mount Rushmore, where people, including a group from Asia, became instant fans. He also turned up at Crazy Horse and stopped for the free ice water at Wall Drug.

“I tried to take him to the Buffalo Roundup in Custer State Park,” said his photographer (who wished to remain anonymous). “He wanted nothing to do with those bison. He got hoppin’ mad! But cows he likes. I took him to several of the state’s Agriculture Experiment Stations and he insisted on mugging for the camera with a herd of cows. On our way home, we visited the College of Nursing’s West River Department where Jack showed a few students how to take a patient’s temperature in a simulation lab.”

After learning of Jack’s travels, I set my sights again on the Dairy Bar, curious to see if Jack had a favorite flavor.

“He’s not overly fond of our choices,” said Vikram Mistry, professor and head of the Department of Dairy and Food Science. “He desperately wants to make his own flavor—carrot cake. Problem is, we can’t find a full-body hare net (get it?).

“And yes, he’s been after me about expanding our line of jack cheeses,” he continued. “For some reason, Jack thinks Monterey Jack and pepper Jack cheeses are about him and wanted to see if he could get compensated for using his name.”

Mistry said Jack has been seen talking to the department’s cows to get them on his side.

As I strolled through the campus with my ice cream cone (you can’t go to the Dairy Bar and not get a cone), I decided to stop in the University Student Union if anyone there could tell me about Jack.

“He used to be a member of the University Program Council,” said Addie Borah, assistant director of student activities. “But he kind of got in a rut after he planned 78 screenings of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit.’”

Remembering Moe’s comment about Jack’s desire to crush carrots, I stopped into Dining Services to see if perhaps Jack was prepping for a cooking competition or trying to provide some insight from his nutrition classes.

“Not that I’m aware of,” said Heidi Haro, general manager of Aramark. “However, about the carrots … it’s the oddest thing. Jack used to love carrots. Often that’d be all he’d eat. Now he scurries away if I so much as offer him a carrot. It’s almost as if he’s taunted by a simple carrot.”

Now we know Jack is a hard-working, fun-loving, bison-disliking adventurer with an odd aversion to carrots. Perhaps the 38th time will be the charm and this year we’ll see him behind the wheel of the Bummobile. Nonetheless, the fact remains, Jack is truly the state’s favorite jackrabbit!

Andrea Kieckhefer ’99

I am a journalism graduate with a full-time job in University Marketing and Communications at State.
I currently coach the Dakota Blue Flag Line and was a 5-year member of The Pride of the Dakotas.
As a result, I’ve been around Jack way too much. 

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