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Football History - Virginia Cavaliers History
The Cavalier Mascot
In 1963, the University mascot became a bare-faced horseback
rider in Cavalier garb. Both the horse and rider were furnished
by the UVa Polo Club. However, the mounted Cavalier and
his horse parted company in 1974 with the inception of AstroTurf
at Scott Stadium. From 1974 to 1982, the Cavalier performed
on foot. The 'Hoo, an orange-costumed mascot, made a brief
appearance in 1983 but did not capture the support of the
student body. The costumed Cavalier with a large character
head debuted the following football season in 1984 and has
remained the official mascot of the University. The Cavalier
performs with the UVa cheerleaders at all football and men's
and women's basketball games as well as various other University-related
and athletic events. The Cavalier is selected from the student
body through open tryouts. The mounted Cavalier made its
return in the Florida Citrus Bowl at the end of the 1989
football season. Due to its instant popularity, the Cavalier
on horseback returned the following season on a regular
basis and continues to lead the Virginia football team onto
the field at the beginning of all home games.
Beta and Seal
Virginia's first mascot was a black-and-white mongrel dog
named Beta, who was cherished by the University community
in the 1920s and '30s. The canine was named after the Beta
Theta Pi fraternity, which bought his license at least once.
Considered no less than a member of the student body, Beta
pursued a wide range of interests--from football to scholarly
discourse. He was welcomed at most University functions,
including dances, fraternity parties and lectures. He attended
a course at Cabell Hall about Plato so frequently that his
name was called in the roll, at which time he would bark
out his presence. His most famous exploit came after being
left behind in Athens, Ga., following a UVa football game
with Georgia. It was not until two weeks later that a scratch
was heard at the back door of the Beta House, and a cold,
ragged and hungry Beta stood there. It is not known how
he found his way home. As befitted a dog of his stature,
Beta enjoyed a great deal of notoriety. Hailed by the University
as the nation's "No. 1 college dog," he was mentioned
on a nationwide broadcast of the Pontiac radio show and
appeared in Look magazine.
On April 6, 1939, Beta was hit by an automobile and had
to be put to sleep. An estimated one thousand students marched
in the funeral procession from the Beta House (now Delta
Upsilon) to the University Cemetery.
Seal, a cross-eyed black mongrel mutt, continued the University's
tradition of dog mascots in the mid-1940s. His sleek coat
of fur earned him the name Seal, and he later became known
as the "Great Seal of Virginia."
The beloved mascot was allowed in UVa lecture halls and
nearly everywhere else around town. Even local restaurants
with signs reading, "No Dogs Allowed," wrote below
in parentheses, "except Seal." He was fed by different
fraternities as well as the University Cafeteria and could
often be found at the home of the late Dr. Charles Frankel,
a long-time football team doctor at UVa.
Seal's claim to fame came in 1949 during halftime of the
Pennsylvania football game at Franklin Field in Philadelphia.
Wearing a blue blanket embossed with a large orange "V,"
Seal walked from the 50-yard line to the Pennsylvania sideline
where the Penn cheerleaders had placed their megaphones.
The rest of the event was recounted as follows in the Cavalier
Daily: "Slowly he walked from midfield to the Quaker
side. Indifferently he inspected their cheerleading appurtenances.
Eighty thousand people watched with bated breath. Coolly,
insolently, Seal lifted a leg--the rest is history."
Virginia went on to win its seventh straight game of the
season 26-14 and Seal later came to be known as Caninus
Seal was about 10 years old and suffering from an internal
rupture when a local veterinarian, Dr. W.B. White, put the
"Great Seal of Virginia" to sleep on December
11, 1953. Approximately 1,500 people joined the funeral
procession from the University Hospital to the University
Cemetery, where Seal was laid to rest beside Beta. No other
canine has since been accepted as the official mascot.
Orange and blue were adopted as the University of Virginia's
official athletic colors at a mass student meeting in 1888.
UVa athletic teams had previously worn silver gray and cardinal
red, but those colors did not stand out on muddy football
fields, prompting a student movement to change them.
One of the students attending the mass meeting was Allen
Potts, a star athlete who played on Virginia's first football
team in 1888. Potts showed up at the meeting wearing a navy
blue-and-orange scarf that he had acquired during a summer
boating expedition at Oxford University. Orange and blue
were chosen as the official athletic colors after one of
Potts' fellow students pulled the scarf off Potts' neck
and, waving it to the crowd, yelled, "How will this
Virginia's athletic teams have been accompanied by a somewhat
confusing array of nicknames. The most prominent and widely
accepted of these monikers are "Cavaliers," "Wahoos"
and "Hoos," although "V-men," "Virginians"
and "Old Dominion" also have been used to refer
to UVa athletic teams through the years.
Although the terms "Cavaliers," "Wahoos"
and "Hoos" are used almost interchangeably to
refer to University teams and players, "Cavaliers"
is more often used by the media, while "Wahoos"
and "Hoos" are frequently used by Virginia students
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. By 1940, "Wahoos" was in
general use around Grounds to denote University students
or events relating to them. The abbreviated "Hoos"
sprang up later in student newspapers and has gained growing
popularity in recent years.
In 1923, the college newspaper, College Topics, held a
contest to choose an official alma mater and fight song.
John Albert Morrow, Class of '23, won the alma mater contest
with "Virginia, Hail All Hail," while "The
Cavalier Song," written by Lawrence Haywood Lee, Jr.,
Class of '24, with music by Fulton Lewis, Jr., Class of
'25, was chosen the best fight song. Although both songs
failed to become part of University tradition, "The
Cavalier Song" inspired the nickname "Cavaliers."
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