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Tag: mascots

Retrievers bring back unforgettable win

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Undersized, unknown, and underdogs in every meaning of the word, the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) made history this weekend as the first 16th seed ever to beat a one seed in the men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.

The 20-point victory over top-seeded University of Virginia was an inspiring thing to watch, leaving some fans with brackets smashed and hopes dashed; some celebrating a Cinderella story that, just maybe, outdid the original; and still more scratching their heads over the upstart team’s unusual (in the sports world) name — the Retrievers.

As golden as they were Friday night, the team’s not named for that type of retriever, but after the Chesapeake Bay retriever, the state dog of Maryland.

cbrThe Chesapeake Bay retriever has been the mascot of UMBC since its founding in 1966.

The costumed mascot was known as “Fever the Retriever” in the late 1990s. Later, the school had a live mascot, called Campus Sam.

At the beginning of the 2008 fall semester, a Chesapeake Bay retriever puppy was chosen as a new mascot. He attended many athletic events and an online poll was held to give him a name, Gritty, or True Grit, as a statue of a retriever that stands in front of the Retriever Activities Center.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of UMBC in 2006, the University held the “March of the Retrievers,” a procession of 40 Chesapeake Bay Retrievers from the True Grit statue to the University Commons and then on to the UMBC Soccer Stadium.

umbmemeAfter UMBC’s startling win, the meme postings began on social media — most of them featuring golden retrievers or Labrador retrievers.

More than a few new fans of the team just assumed the mascot must be a golden retriever, but maybe that was because they’ve watched too many Air Bud movies.

Only a few dog breeds show up commonly in the names of college sports teams — huskies, of course; bulldogs, for sure. Southern Illinois University has the Salukis. Boston University has the Terriers.

And UMBC, the college with a long name, chose a breed that honors the state dog, but shortened the name — maybe out of consideration for the cheerleaders.

“Go, University of Maryland Baltimore County Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, go!” is a bit of a mouthful.

The Retrievers had their chance to get to the Sweet 16 last night, facing Kansas State University (whose mascot is, yawn, yet another Wildcat). Despite another gutsy effort, they fell.

On the bright side, though — one I’m sure that will be featured heavily in the “One Shining Moment” montage that always concludes the tournament — they had their history-making night, and what a night it was.

A new Uga is picked for U of Georgia

Uga VIII — the University of Georgia’s eighth bulldog mascot — will take the field for the first time this Saturday at the school’s homecoming game with Vanderbilt.

White English bulldogs, all from the same family line, have been serving as the school’s mascot since 1956, PeoplePets reports.

In 2009, UGA VII passed away from heart problems after less than two seasons as mascot. His five-year-old half-brother “Russ” was brought to serve as the school’s interim mascot until a permanent replacement could be found.

All eight mascots have come from the same purebred bloodline and are owned by the Seiler family of Savannah, Ga.

Uga VIII, also known as “Big Bad Bruce,” was named in honor of Dr. Bruce Hollett of the university’s school of veterinary medicine. He will take over as mascot this weekend in a ceremonial “passing of the collar.”

The new Uga, like the previous ones will sit in his own house on the football field as the game takes place.

The bulldog at the Final Four

If you watched last night’s Final Four in Indianapolis, you may have caught a glimpse of Butler Blue II, the mascot of the Butler University Bulldogs, a school that apparently — as the home team — got some special treatment from the NCAA.

The NCAA made an exception to its rules prohibiting live animals on the basketall court, allowing Blue II to make an appearance before the game, which saw Butler beat Michigan State for a spot in the final game against Duke.

Bulldogs, quickly growing in popularity — they’re now No. 7 on the AKC’s most popular breeds list — also serve as the mascots for Yale, Georgetown and the University of Georgia, not to mention the U.S. Marine Corps.

Butler University adopted the Bulldogs name in the 1920s, but never had a bulldog on campus other than as an occasional fraternity pet.

Then, in 1998, Kelli Walker, a Butler graduate, went to work for the school’s alumni office as the associate director of alumni and parent programs. Walker began researching the possibility of getting an actual bulldog donated to the school to serve as mascot.

Instead, she found an alumnus who donated money, allowing Walker to purchase the original Butler Blue from a local breeder, according to the Morris Daily Herald.

The original Blue retired in 2004 and now lives with Walker in Morris, Ill. Blue’s breeder offered to donate the school’s second mascot, Blue II.

Butler Blue II celebrated his sixth birthday on March 27 — the same day his teamed earned their final four berth. Blue both Tweets and blogs, and his favorite treats are milk and ice cream, but, as the video above shows, clearly not watermelon.