How a Grubbworm became a Maverick
Hornets, Junior Aggies, Blue Riders and Rebels among long list of mascot names
An aardvark as UTA’s mascot? It could’ve happened. The story begins more than 80 years ago.
From 1917, when it joined the Texas A&M System, to 1921, the school’s athletic teams answered to Grubbers or the school’s name, Grubbs Vocational College) and Shorthorns (after the campus newspaper, The Shorthorn).
Grubbers just wasn't destined to last, and many didn't like Shorthorns because that's what freshman teams at the school's hated rival, The University of Texas at Austin, were called.
A Shorthorn editorial Nov. 12, 1921, liked Hornets the idea of the ‘Horn’ and the ‘Sting’ too.”
So Hornets it was—but not for long. When the school changed to North Texas Agricultural College in 1923, the yearbook that appeared in the spring was called the Junior Aggie. This set in motion a gradual shift over the years from Hornets to Junior Aggies.
In 1949, when the school became Arlington State College, the nickname was officially changed to Blue Riders. According to an Aug. 25, 1949, article in the Tarrant County Citizen, “It was felt that the name would be appropriate with the school colors (blue and white), and would allow artists an opportunity to sketch attractive designs for team uniforms.”
Except Blue Riders never caught on, either. In 1951, President E.H. Hereford called a meeting of as many sophomores as he could find and asked them to suggest yet another mascot.
Rebels subsequently won a student vote, and the fight song Dixie and mascot Johnny Reb became intricate parts of the theme and continued as ASC became a four-year school in 1959. The theme was never seriously questioned until spring 1965 when some argued that Rebels depicted a symbol of slavery. Others maintained that it represented Southern heritage.
Several votes for name changes were held over the next six years, including one in 1968 (one year after the school became The University of Texas at Arlington) when Aardvarks was the top vote-getter behind Rebels. In February 1970, with Rebels not being one of the choices, Texans won out over Mavericks and Apollos, but Mavericks prevailed in a runoff.
The battle still wasn't over as students forced a referendum a month later, and the Old South theme prevailed again. UTA President Frank Harrison pleaded with students to make a change.
In May 1971, one more vote was held. Again, students could vote for any name they chose, as long as it wasn't Rebels. Mavericks won over Toros, Rangers and Hawks.
“Even though many students and alumni and even some faculty and staff still wished to keep the Rebel theme in 1971, after six years most had simply grown weary of the fight,” said Public Affairs Director Donna Darovich, then a UTA student.
The first Maverick mascot was a horned horse. In later years it was patterned, sort of, after Sam Maverick, a wealthy Texas landowner who participated in many momentous events in the state’s early history, among them the defense of the Alamo. He died in 1870.
Maverick accumulated a fabled empire and inspired the term “maverick” to denote an unbranded calf or an independent person.
Face it, “Let’s go, Mavs” has a more robust ring
than “Let’s go, Aards.”
– Jim Patterson