Happy Independence Day to everyone here from the KCCGD blog. Even though it says Kansas City, I’m down here in Austin for good but it doesn’t matter because it’s all American baby. More on that change here in a couple of months. In the meantime, I was going through the mascots that I’ve yet to look at from this year’s Phil Steele’s Top 50 list, but since today is a very special day we are going to forgo that and head straight into a patriotic mascot. What I pulled out of my stars and striped hat was the Virginia Cavalier and CavMan.
Established in 1819, the University of Virginia is one of the oldest universities in the United States. The early Board of Visitors included former Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. The football team, however, didn’t hike a ball until 1888. It took a former Yale and Princeton student in 1886, Charles Willcox and Richard Reid Rogers respectively, to bring the sport to the school. They lost their first organized game to Johns Hopkins 26-0. The team isn’t complete loser, however. They’ve won a couple of co-championships in the ACC in 1989 and 1995 and their bowl record is hanging around .400 at 7-10-0.
Okay, so what’s a Cavalier? The Virginia Company first showed up in England back in the 1600s but had a tiff with the King and had its charter chopped down. Virginia became a colony and the Cavaliers, after losing out to the Puritans, fled to the colony. The Bacon Rebellion came and went and finally a hundred years later, the greater rebellion happened. The nickname of ‘Cavalier’ comes in and out with ‘Wahoos’ and ‘Hoos’ but the first mention of ‘Cavalier’ was in a fight song titled ‘The Cavalier’ in 1923 and Lawrence Haywood Lee, Jr. A student vote kept the song as the fight song and eventually the team nickname came from that.
So where did the mascots come from? In the 1920s the Beta Theta Pi fraternity produced a black and white mongrel dog named Beta, which held the mascot title down until April 6, 1939 when he was hit by a car. Seal stepped up to the plate afterward as another live dog mascot, with his biggest performance taking place in 1949 when he pissed on the Pennsylvania cheerleader’s megaphones. Medical complications forced the school to put Seal to sleep in 1953. 10 years later a bare-faced horseback rider in Cavalier garb rode onto the field.
Astroturf booted the horse off the field in 1974 and the Cavalier had to perform on foot until 1982. In 1983 the school tried an orange glob mascot named ‘Hoo’ but he was so bad a giant head version of the Cavalier took his place in 1984. That same mascot, now named CavMan, bounces on the field to this day. CavMan was even named to the Capital One All-America Mascot Team in 2007. Some of the fans missed the horseback Cavalier and when the rider and horse charged the field in the Florida Citrus Bowl in 1989, we was there to stay.
I’m not going to review the mascots because today is a day of celebration. Well, that and they are pretty well put together. Anytime you can get a foam dude and horseback straddling dude on the same field to produce some spirit is a good time in my book. So that’s The Virginia Cavalier and CavMan. I’m sure they are kicking back, relaxing, and soaking up the joy and pride that is our independence here in America. I hope that you are dong the same thing and I will be joining y’all very shortly. Happy 4th!