A Laker is the captain of a Great Lakes sailing vessel, a person who navigates the Great Lakes. Louie the Laker is the Official Mascot of Grand Valley State Athletics.
With the first three men's teams (Golf, Basketball, Tennis) entering intercollegiate athletics, Grand Valley State College asked the public for help in 1965 while looking for an official mascot. Before entering official competition, Grand Valley's teams were unofficially known as the Bruisers because of the blue, black, and white color scheme. GVSC's United College Organization (UCO) selected six finalists submitted by the public for the official mascot to be selected by a student vote. The names chosen were Bruisers, Warriors, Bluejays, Ottawas, Archers, and Voyagers. After a seven hour vote, Grand Valley students selected a write-in vote submitted by sophomore Annie Kate McDonald from Grand Haven, Mich. Students voted the dark-horse candidate, Lakers, as the official nickname over the six options proposed by UCO. After all the votes had been tallied, the write-in name Lakers finished 11 votes ahead of second place Voyagers.
In the 1969 there was a push for another student-led nomination by some students to change the name of the mascot from Lakers. Some of the proposed names were Vikings, Griffins, and Sawyers (similar to a Lumberjack). In the end, there wasn't much support to change the name since the school's athletic teams had expanded by adding track and field, softball, field hockey, volleyball, and wrestling and most already had uniforms with the Laker name.