By Shelby Mullis
A renovated emergency vehicle is now a Franklin College game day tradition.
Franklin College alumni of 1991 Jeff Holt and Dawn Holt (Calhoun) renovated the decommissioned ambulance into the Griz Mobile, a tailgating spectacle for the college’s football game touchdown club.
“My husband, Jeff, saw another ambulance that had been converted to a Purdue University tailgating vehicle,” Dawn Holt said. “It was love at first sight.”
The hunt for a Franklin College spirit vehicle ended in spring 2014, and the Griz Mobile was ready to roll out by the fall football season.
The couple purchased the vehicle and sought help from businesses and friends to assist in the renovation process.
The blue and gold exterior, designed by 1982 college alumnus Gordon Cox, features a large Franklin football helmet graphic, blue and gold emergency lights, a retractable awning, a television and speakers.
“People love that it has a ‘big’ feel to it,” Dawn Holt said. “Just as the financial support of the Touchdown Club allows Franklin College to be a Division III program with a Division I ‘look,’ the Griz Mobile sends the message that our team is top-notch and has loyal fan support.”
Sophomore Nick Uhl has played football since second grade and said he has never seen anything like it.
“The Griz Mobile speaks for itself,” Uhl said. “It’s one of those must-see things at a Franklin College football game. It’s definitely unique.”
Uhl said he thinks the tailgating and crowd at football games is especially important for the team.
He said an active crowd creates a positive energy on the field.
Head Coach Mike Leonard agrees, crediting the crowd for the extra percentage of energy passed on to the players to give it their best.
“[The team] loves our fans when they come out and support,” Leonard said. “More specifically, I love seeing alumni on game day. It shows the importance that Franklin had on these peoples’ lives. Many of our recruits have told us that when they choose Franklin, one of the big reasons was because of the atmosphere on game day. They don’t have those kinds of atmospheres at other places.”
Leonard said he has had his fair share of rides in the mobile, calling it “one of those little things that no other program has.”
Leonard said Jeff and Dawn Holt maintain a strong connection with the college, working with the touchdown club to organize events and raise money for the team.
“[My husband and I] feel that Franklin College is where we became who we are,” Holt said. “We like to revisit the place and support the cause. … Even though we’ve met thousands of awesome people in those years, FC people are the best. Those friendships stand the test of time.”
The Griz Mobile will make an appearance at tomorrow’s home matchup against the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Manchester University. It’s also the annual Pink Out Football Game hosted by Zeta Tau Alpha and starts at 1:30 p.m.