'Rebel' debut successful

Rebel, the new Ole Miss mascot, made his debut last week at children's hospitals in Jackson and Memphis. The visits to Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children and LeBonheur Children's Hospital were a successful start in Rebel's life.

It's all a part of the plan to implement the new bear mascot for Ole Miss and its athletics teams. So far, Rebel's debut has been positive in basically every sense of the word.

Senior Associate Athletics Director for Marketing and Communications Michael Thompson said when a new mascot was selected through the process a few months ago, a plan was established to go public with it in the future. That time is now.

"Everything we're doing is very objective based," said Thompson, an Ole Miss graduate from Memphis who has been in the athletics department since last August. "We talk about what we want to accomplish with certain things. We decide this is what we want to accomplish, and how are we getting there."

He points to one of many charts on his office wall, this particular one containing the list of a plan for the unveiling of Rebel.

"That piece of paper up there that has the objectives of implementing Rebel, look how old the ink is," he said, noting the paper has been on his wall for a few months.

Rebel was a hit at the hospitals
And the objectives are well thought out and important.

"No. 1, let's connect with children," Thompson said. "So we put that up there. When we started to implement the mascot, I looked back to that sheet and we filtered everything through that."

The hospital visits were easy decisions. Thompson said the hospitals were very receptive, and one phone call was all it took.

"We thought about what can we do to hit as many of those (objectives) as possible. It's a no-brainer. It just is," he said. "We went to the state's capital to the only children's hospital in the state, and we went to the large market on our border."

Thompson said the visit by Rebel was very well received by both patients and their families.

"I don't care what anyone says, right, wrong, or indifferent, we made a lot of children's day that day," he said. "We did it because it was the right thing to do based on what our objectives are. We wanted to do it for the children."

And to see their reaction, which for most was very positive.

"A smile is a smile," he said. "There was a ton in the lobby with kids and parents. Then we went on a couple of floors and visited. It was cool. I mean, it was really cool.

"It was an amazing thing. When you see children like that and you see for whatever reason a day get brightened, it doesn't matter. It's all about what's important in life."

Thompson wouldn't say when the public would see Rebel again. But it's thought to be very soon.

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