Marc's Distinctive College Mascot Collection: T-Z

Last Updated: January 1, 2018

Welcome to Part 5 of my collection of distinctive and unusual mascots of United States college teams. This portion includes schools starting with the letter T through the letter Z. New and updated information is denoted by animated images.

Tennessee Volunteers (Knoxville, TN) -- Tennessee is known as the "Volunteer State." It acquired its name in the War of 1812. At the request of President James Madison, Gen. Andrew Jackson, later President, mustered 1500 volunteers from his home state to fight the Indians and later the British at the Battle of New Orleans. The name became even more prominent in the Mexican War when Gov. Aaron V. Brown issued a call for 2800 men to battle Santa Ana and some 30,000 Tennesseans volunteered. The name is often shortened to "Vols."

Tennessee-Chattanooga Mocs (Chattanooga, TN) -- UTC used to use the term "Moccasins," a type of footwear used by Native Americans of the past, as its symbol. When the school decided to move away from Native American symbols, they shortened the word to "Mocs" and adopted the mockingbird, Tennessee's state bird, for use in the school's new logo.

Texas Longhorns (Austin, TX) -- Named for the famed breed of cattle known for its long horns. The Texas longhorn is a hybrid breed resulting from a random mixing of Spanish retinto (criollo) stock and English cattle that Anglo-American frontiersmen brought to Texas from southern and midwestern states in the 1820s and 1830s. In 1916, the first longhorn mascot, named Bevo, was formally presented to the students.

Texas A&M-Galveston Sea Aggies (Galveston, TX) -- This refers to the school's location on Gulf of Mexico and affiliation with the Texas A&M Aggies.

Texas A&M-Kingsville Javelinas (Kingsville, TX) -- A javelina is a wild boar native to the American southwest.

Texas Christian Horned Frogs (Fort Worth, TX) -- The Horned Frog (actually a lizard) has been TCU's mascot longer than TCU has been the university's name. Four students helped make the decision in 1897, when AddRan Christian University (renamed TCU in 1902) was located in Waco. The Horned Frog is the state reptile of Texas.

Tohono O’odham Jegos (Sells, AZ) -- "Jegos" is the Tohono O'odham word for the windy dust storm that comes before a monsoon rain. This mascot was adopted in 2011.

Treasure Valley Chukars (Ontario, OR) -- A chukar is a popular small game bird of the partridge species. It has a brown back with strongly barred sides and a black-outlined whitish throat.

Trinity Christian Trolls (Palos Heights, IL) -- Symbolized by a tough-looking blue creature wearing a cloak with the school's logo. This mascot was adopted in 1966 because of its alliteration with "Trinity."

Tufts Jumbos (Medford, MA) -- P.T. Barnum, a master showman and promoter, was an original trustee of Tufts. Barnum endowed a museum of natural history to be built on campus. The Barnum Museum (later Barnum Hall) was opened in 1884 and he donated many of the specimens. Barnum bought the famous elephant Jumbo from the London Zoo in 1882 and brought him to America as the star attraction of Barnum's circus. When Jumbo died in 1885, Barnum commissioned what was called the world's largest taxidermy job ever performed, and donated the elephant's stuffed remains to Tufts. Jumbo instantly became the main attraction of the Barnum Museum and was adopted by the university as its mascot.

Tulane Green Wave (New Orleans, LA) -- On Oct. 20, 1920, Earl Sparling, editor of the Tulane Hullabaloo, wrote a football song, "The Rolling Green Wave," which was printed in the newspaper. Although the name was not immediately adopted, it began to receive acceptance. On Nov. 19, 1920, a report of the Tulane-Mississippi A&M game in the Hullabaloo referred to the team as the "Green Wave." By the end of the season, the term "Green Wave" was used by many papers to refer to all Tulane athletic teams.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane (OK) -- This name replaced "Yellow Jackets" in 1922. The football team was expected to have a great season, and a remark was made in practice one day about "roaring through opponents." "Golden Tornado" was a favorite choice for a new name, but it was already used elsewhere, so it evolved into "Golden Hurricane."

Turtle Mountain Mighty Mikinocks (Belcourt, ND) -- "Mikinock" means 'large turtle' in the Chippewa language. The Turtle Mountain band of the Chippewa tribe founded the college in 1972.

United States Military Academy Black Knights (West Point, NY) -- Army also uses "Cadets" as a nickname. Since 1899, mules have served as the mascots for the Corps of Cadets. The choice of the mule as a mascot reflects the long-standing usefulness of the animal in military operation - transporting guns, supplies and ammunition.

United States Naval Academy Midshipmen (Annapolis, MD) -- A term for students training to become naval officers. Often shortened to "Middies" or "Mids." Navy uses a billygoat as an mascot, an association that began when an ensign donned a goatskin (of a ship's pet) at a Navy football game to entertain the fans. He romped up and down the sidelines, and his antics drew howls of laughter. The Navy victory that day was attributed to the late goat's spirit. A live goat made his debut as a mascot at the fourth Army-Navy game in 1893.

Vanderbilt Commodores (Nashville, TN) -- Honors Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, the noted business magnate whom the school is named after.

Vassar Brewers (Poughkeepsie, NY) -- School namesake and founder Matthew Vassar made his fortune as a brewer.

Vermont Catamounts (Burlington, VT) -- This means "cat of the mountains," a name for a puma or cougar.

Virginia Wahoos (Charlottesville, VA) -- Better known as the "Cavaliers," which is more often used by the media, while "Wahoos" and "Hoos" are frequently used by Virginia students and fans. Legend has it that Washington & Lee baseball fans dubbed the Virginia players "Wahoos" during the fiercely contested rivalry that existed between the two in-state schools in the 1890s. This name may be derived from an old school Indian yell, "Wah-Hoo-Wah" (which originally came from Dartmouth College). The abbreviated "Hoos" sprang up later in student newspapers and has gained growing popularity in recent years. The "Cavaliers" nickname was inspired by "The Cavalier Song," written by a student in 1923 as a school fight song.

Virginia Military Institute Keydets (Lexington, VA) -- The school nickname "Keydets" is derived from a southern drawl pronunciation of the word "cadet."

Virginia Tech Hokies (Blacksburg, VA) -- The actual term "Hokie" came from a cheer that was created back in 1896. It goes as follows: "Hokie, Hokie, Hokie, Hi!/Tech, Tech, VPI/Sol-a-rex, Sol-a-rah/Poly-tech Vir-gin-ia/Ray, Rah VPI/Team! Team! Team!" At that time, the word "Hokie" had no meaning, but was the product of the cheer creator's imagination. Virginia Tech also uses a turkey as a school symbol, since the Tech teams had been dubbed "Gobblers" for the way the male athletes ate, or gobbled, their food at the training table.

Virginia-Wise Highland Cavaliers (Wise, VA) -- This nickname combines the location of the campus, the highlands of Virginia, and the mascot of its parent school, the Cavaliers.

Viterbo V-Hawks (La Crosse, WI) -- The "V" in "V-Hawks" stands for either "Victory" or "Viterbo."

Wabash Little Giants (Crawfordsville, IN) -- This name was coined by famed writer Grantland Rice in describing football contests between Wabash and larger schools such as Notre Dame. He referred to the Wabash team as "playing like little giants."

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Winston-Salem, NC) -- The teams at Wake Forest used to be known as "Tigers," "Baptists," or simply "The Old Gold & Black." After Wake Forest defeated rival Trinity (now Duke) in football in 1923, the editor referred to the team as "Demon Deacons," in recognition of what he termed their "devilish" play and fighting spirit. Wake Forest's news director and football coach liked the title and began using it.

Washburn Ichabods (Topeka, KS) -- The name of this school's mascot came from an early university donor, Ichabod Washburn.

Washington Shoremen (Chestertown, MD) -- The women's teams are known as "Shorewomen."

Washington Adventist Shock (Takoma Park, MD) -- Symbolized by electrical bolts.

Washington and Jefferson Presidents (Washington, PA) -- Honors the school's namesakes, former Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Washington and Lee Generals (Lexington, VA) -- Honors school namesakes George Washington, a benefactor of the college, and Robert E. Lee, who served as its president for a number of years. Both men were famous generals in America -- Washington during the Revolutionary War, and Lee during the Civil War.

Webb Webbies (Glen Cove, NY) -- This is likely an extension of the school name.

Webster Gorloks (St. Louis, MO) -- Named after the intersection of Lockwood and Gore near the campus. Chosen in 1984 and symbolized by a mythical creature with the horns of a fierce buffalo, the face of a dependable St. Bernard, and the paws of a speeding cheetah.

Wellesley Blue (MA) -- Officially, Wellesley has no nickname for its teams. The all-women's college does refer to its teams as "The Blue," since blue is the official color of the school. Efforts to establish an official mascot have been fruitless thus far.

Westchester Westcos (Valhalla, NY) -- The "Westco" name is derived from the college's name. Teams at Westchester are also known as "Vikings."

Western Illinois Fighting Leathernecks (Macomb, IL) -- A "leatherneck" is a nickname applied to the members of the United States Marine Corps. Ray Hanson, an early coach and athletic director at Western, served in World War I and World War II as a Marine. The school received permission to use the name and bulldog mascot from the Marine Corps and is the only non-service academy allowed to officially adopt a nickname and mascot also used by a branch of the United States armed forces.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (Bowling Green, KY) -- Refers to the hill the school sits upon, which has a commanding view of the city of Bowling Green.

Whatcom Orcas (Bellingham, WA) -- Represented by a Killer Whale.

Whittier Poets (CA) -- Honors Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier, whom the college is named after.

Williamson Mechanics (Media, PA) -- As you might have guessed, Williamson is a mechanical school.

Wisconsin Badgers (Madison, WI) -- The state is known as "The Badger State" through an association with lead miners in the 1820s. Prospectors came to the state looking for minerals. Without shelter in the winter, the miners had to 'live like badgers' in tunnels burrowed into hillsides.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugolds (Eau Claire, WI) -- I believe this a combination of the school colors: blue and gold.

Wisconsin-Sheboygan Wombats (WI) -- This name was chosen in 1969. Wombats are sometimes referred to as Australian badgers, and the badger is the mascot of University of Wisconsin, the parent school of UW-S.

Wisconsin-Stevens Point Pointers (Stevens Point, WI) -- I've got to think the school's name played a role in selecting their mascot. The school's athletic logo features a member of the pointer dog breed.

Williams Ephs (Williamstown, MA) -- The "Eph" is short for Ephraim Williams, who was instrumental in the founding of the college. The name "Purple Cow" has also been used since in 1907 when the student body chose this colorful bovine as their mascot. The name was taken from a popular campus humor magazine.

Xavier Gold Rush (New Orleans, LA) -- The womens' teams are dubbed "Gold Nuggets," sometimes just "Nuggets."

Xavier Musketeers (Cincinnati, OH) -- Symbolized by a soldier wielding a sword, patterned after the French Musketeers. One of the funding sources for the athletic program is the "All for One Fund," invoking part of the Musketeer slogan, "All for One and One for All."

Yakima Valley Yaks (Yakima, WA) -- This works on a couple of levels: alliteration and as part of the college's name.

Yale Elis (New Haven, CT) -- Yale also uses "Bulldogs" as a nickname. "Elis" honors school namesake Elihu Yale, who gave of nine bales of goods, 417 books, and a portrait and arms of King George I to the Collegiate School, as the university was originally titled. In gratitude, the school was named after him in 1718.

Yeshiva Maccabees (New York, NY) -- The Maccabees were a family of fierce Jewish patriots who led a revolt against the Syrians in 175 B.C. This name is often shortened to "Macs" or "Lady Macs."

Youngstown State Penguins (OH) -- Prior to 1933, Youngstown State had no nickname for its athletic teams. There are two accounts of how the Penguin nickname came about, and interestingly enough they come from the same evening on January. 30, 1933. The first account states that on a cold, freezing night at a men’s basketball game at West Liberty State, in West Liberty, West Virginia, a spectator watching the members of the team stomp on the floor and swing their arms made them look like Penguins. The fans took a liking to the nickname. The second account states that the name was conceived on the trip to that same game in West Virginia. In one automobile, the name Penguins came up and was well received by everyone in the car. Upon arrival at the West Liberty gym, the name was mentioned to the members of the team who thought it was perfect.

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