Teams take names from history

by Laura Dillavou

Here comes the Storm. Followed by the Knights, the Spartans and the … Beavers?

The Iowa Conference is home to a wide range of mascots – everything from the Simpson Storm to the Coe Kohawks to the Central Dutch. The variety of names represent the athletic teams and most have a significance in the college’s history.

Dutch formerly ‘Flying Dutchmen’

Everyone has heard the jokes or seen the T-shirts, but behind all the insults, there is some history to the Central Dutch.

“At one time, we were the Flying Dutchmen, named after a ship many Dutch came to America on,” said Connie Cross, director of college relations for Central. “But the ship may have been a slave ship, and the college didn’t want that association, so then our name became the Dutchmen.”

But the college still wasn’t satisfied with that.

“With gender equality and things like that, we changed from Dutchmen to just the Dutch,” Cross said. “Dutchwomen just didn’t sound right and we wanted to be fair.”

Knights named after team in Nebraska

When Wartburg College became official in 1935, they kept colors of black and orange from the previous Wartburg College in Clinton, IA, but decided on the new name of the Knights.

“When a new football coach came to the school in Clinton, he wanted there to be a name for the team and requested the Knights,” Wartburg Librarian Randell Schroder said in an e-mail. “Hertel [the football coach] came from a school in Nebraska where the team name had been the Knights as well.”

Duhawk name originated in 1924

What is a Duhawk, anyway? According to the Loras Web site, the Duhawk tradition began in 1924 when a writer from the Detroit Free Press covered a football story on Loras – then Columbia College – against the Coe Kohawks. He didn’t know what to call the team, so he decided to write them up as the Dubuque Hawks and later referred to them as the Duhawks. In 1925, Columbia administration tried to change the name, but the Duhawks has stuck with the college ever since.

Spartan colors stay, name changes

The current athletic director at the University of Dubuque, Dan Runkle, was not able to provide any information on the history of the Spartans. He did note that in the college’s early years, the athletic teams were known as the blue and whites. He didn’t know when the name changed over, though the colors have stayed the same.

Luther takes name from history

Similar to Central, the Luther Norse took their name from their heritage.

“Luther has a very strong affiliation with the Norwegian ancestry,” Luther Athletic Director Joe Thompson said. “The Norsemen were known as warriors specific to Norway and we wanted to represent that with our athletic teams. We underwent a little bit of a transition in the late 70s from the Norsemen to just the Norse to make it gender equal.”

Beaver mascot adopted in 1921

All jokes aside, the beaver mascot for Buena Vista University has a long and interesting history. According to the Buena Vista Web site, in 1921, student Karl Nicholas was tired of the athletic teams being referred to as the “BVers.” It also happened to be similar to a popular soft drink, BEVO, at the time. Combining the two ideas, he came up with the Beavers, and the school adopted it officially in November of 1921.

Kohawks echo Hawkeye mascot

The origin of the Kohawk takes its name from the college’s surroundings.

“We’re close to Iowa City, and their the Hawkeyes, so we wanted to do something similar,” Athletic Director John Chandler said. “I know the name’s been around since the 1900s, and a Kohawk is just like a hawk.”

The unique name makes the mascot memorable.

“I don’t think it will ever change,” Chandler said. “People seem to be stuck with it.”