MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ - Middlesex College will soon be retiring its athletic logo depicting a stout-hearted steed in mid-rear, putting the iconic Blue Colt out to pasture after more than 50 years.
The school that had been known as Middlesex County College until Jan. 1 will also be abbreviating the school nickname to simply Colts.
News of the college’s sweeping rebranding initiative hit Lorenz “Larry” Thoms right in his heart.
He was a teenager in a long pea coat and a mop of wind-tossed hair in 1967 when he created the Blue Colt while taking business classes at MCC.
So much has changed since then - Thoms has since retired after raising a family and enjoying a successful career in the pharmaceuticals field, while study halls have cropped up on the Edison campus’ green lawn like so many dandelions. The school has since opened centers in New Brunswick and Perth Amboy.
The Blue Colt has endured through it all, appearing on baseball caps, athletic programs, team photos, basketball jerseys, athletic department letterhead and in countless other forms over the decades – until now.
“I am somewhat disappointed,” said Thoms, who grew up in Rahway. “I really enjoyed that connection to the school and the Blue Colt was sort of my claim to fame. I’m a traditionalist. I like history, I like tradition. I wish they would keep it, but I understand the need for change. Sometimes change can be an improvement, a new way of looking at things.”
Middlesex County College was in its infancy when it chose the distinctive Blue Colt as the school mascot. According to “Endless Possibilities, Middlesex County College1964-2014,” College President Frank Chambers charged some students with coming up with some suggestions. One of them, Peter Parenti, championed Colts ahead of Raiders and other submissions. Another student piped up and said, “How about Blue Colts?”
A nickname was born in that moment, but the school still needed a logo. So, Chambers held a contest, dangling a prize to the author of the winning submission. Thoms almost didn’t enter, submitting the sketch in black ink only after being coaxed into it. He can't recall who pushed him to enter, but he remembers being surprised that he won. After all, he had no formal artistic training.
“I won and they gave me something like $15,” he said. “I thought, ‘Oh, that’s it?’ And then they asked me to draw a larger version of it in blue ink to hang in the bookstore. I remember thinking this is taking a lot of time but I was honored to do so.’”
Thoms can laugh about it all these years later from his home in Goshen, Conn.
Life is good for Thoms, who paints watercolor landscapes, skis, fishes, plays with his six grandkids and enjoys the fruits of more than30 years spent working in various sales and management positions for Novartis.
He has always been proud of his Blue Colt, and has always been amused over the years when he’d catch a glimpse of a copy-cat version of it on a bumper sticker or framed on a bar wall.
And even though the logo will soon be retired – college officials say they are planning to unveil a new college logo in the spring – Thoms will maintain a strong connection to the school. All these years later, he has remained friends with a group of guys he met there. A bunch of them ended up renting a house in New Brunswick or South Brunswick – Thoms doesn’t remember exactly where, but boy did they throw some good parties on Friday nights.
After graduation, Thoms, Tommy Brooks, Eddie Wiechowski, Paul Jaffe, Al Ragucci and a few others took off to West Virginia and enrolled in Concord University. He eventually struck out on his own, earning a degree from Murray State.
Not only did his time at Middlesex County College prepare him for a long, successful career, but it gave him lifelong friends.
“Paul was the guy who mentioned to me that I should go into the pharmaceutical field,” Thoms said. “I wouldn’t be, how can I say it, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today if I didn’t follow his advice.”