It’s primetime at Haddix gymnasium, the ball is 30 seconds away from tipoff. The gym is full of Doane tigers cheering, sweating and yelling. The speakers blare “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns and Roses. Thomas the Tiger can be seen playing air guitar and jumping to the jungle beats on the hardwood floor.
Thomas wasn’t always named Thomas.
According to Anne Ziola, Executive Director of Alumni Engagement, Thomas received his name in 2002-2003 school year when a naming contest was held. The name Thomas was chosen because it reflects Doane’s founder, Thomas Doane.
So how long has Thomas been here before he got a name?
Every day is a new day for Thomas, so his long term memory doesn’t quite hold up, according to the tiger.
Doane alumna and historian Janet Jeffries notes that Thomas was on campus in 1987 when she was a student here, though it looked like Thomas had been living there for quite some time.
The first recorded instance of Thomas was in the 1979 yearbook. He doesn’t appear in any photos in the yearbooks prior to that year.
Thomas is at least 40 years old and still partying like it’s 1979.
So what makes Thomas stick around Doane after so many years?
Through body gestures and poorly written words, Thomas says Doane is his home and would never dream of leaving his beloved campus. He loves every student and wants to support everyone through their clubs and teams.
“(Thomas) makes me smile when I see him,” freshman Cierra Meyer said.
Meyer said she has seen Thomas dancing at football games and giving high fives to students on Fridays.
Along with dancing and cheering at sports games, Thomas likes to nap and eat when he isn’t at events. He is a tiger and needs to eat his body weight and get plenty of rest to survive, according to the tiger.
Though Thomas may seem like a simple tiger that likes to have fun, there may be more to him than meets the eye.
Thomas is quite skilled in both chess and pool.
“It was fun seeing a different side to Thomas,” assistant director of Greek Life, Phillip J. Foster said after losing to Thomas in a chess match in the library one day.
Foster said he feels that Thomas is friendly, warm-hearted, compassionate and intelligent. He believes he can beat Thomas in a rematch in five months.
Senior Alex Lange said that he and sophomore Nick Schickert lost to Thomas playing pool one day in Perry when Lange scratched the eight ball in.
“I’m surprised how capable tigers are at playing pool,” Lange said.
Thomas has been around for many years, and he says there’s no chance he is leaving anytime soon.
“Thomas does what Thomas does,” Foster said.