This Saturday will be the first Mulerider home football game in more than 20 years at Southern Arkansas University that the beloved mule, Molly B, will not be carrying the mascot. It is going to take two mules to fill her shoes.
The loyal and gentle Molly B passed away on March 5, 2013, at the SAU farm. More than 100 members of the Mulerider family, including students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, attended a memorial service at SAU this spring in honor of the iconic mule.
Molly Ann, a statuesque gated mule, was graciously donated to SAU by alumnus Ron Harrell last fall. Molly Ann started to ease the workload on the aging Molly B. The two took turns carrying the current mascot representative, Megan Maye.
Maye, who is a senior and in her final year of representing Mulerider athletics, is breaking in a third Molly, Molly C, before Saturday’s game. Molly C was recently purchased by the SAU farm from two SAU alumni – Duane and Dotty Webb of Mena, Ark.
Molly Ann and Molly C will share the sideline duties at this season’s highly anticipated football games.
After every SAU touchdown, the Mulerider runs behind the endzone with the Muleriders flag waving in the wind in a tradition that dates back to the early years of the University. With this year’s power-packed offense, the mule carrying the Mulerider has its work cut out.
“One of the reasons we got Molly C was because we knew we were going to have a pretty potent offense this football season,” said Rusty Hayes, SAU rodeo coach and director of farm operations. “After the Muleriders scored 50 points in their season opener, we expect our mules are going to get tired this year at the home games.”
Molly C also fits the bill for another tradition relating to the history of the Mulerider mascot – she has been put to work on the farm.
Not long after the University was established in Magnolia in 1909, athletic teams started to form and compete against other schools. Being primarily an agriculture college at the time, members of the football team borrowed farm mules to catch a nearby train for away games. One of the early coaches touted his team as “my Muleriders,” and the name stuck.
The Muleriders and Lady Muleriders compete in the NCAA Division II Great American Conference. To this day, SAU teams have one of the world’s most unique mascots.
Hayes said that he hired one of his rodeo team members to continue to work with Molly Ann, who is young and sometimes stubborn. Molly C will be primarily used at the football games, but Molly Ann will continue to be the official carrier of the mascot at Mulegating and other events.
Maye will be atop Molly Ann for photos and to greet the crowd at Mulegating this Saturday, which is from 3:30-6 p.m. outside the SAU Welcome Center. The Mulerider will head over with Molly Ann and Molly C to their spot in the northeast corner of Wilkins Stadium for the football game. Kickoff is as 6 p.m. against Southwestern Oklahoma State University.