University of Minnesota Nickname, Mascot and Traditions
Discover the Stories behind Minnesota's Golden Gophers Nickname, Goldy Gopher mascot and
the schools's great Traditions
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Why Maroon and
These colors gained traction at the
University in 1880 when they were
chosen by an English instructor to
be used as the colors for a
graduation ceremony.  Prior to that
even, the school had been
represented with a variety of colors
Golden Gophers
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Minnesota Hockey
University of Minnesota Golden Gopher Nickname
The origins of  the school's athletic nickname were born in a political cartoon that was published in
1857. Minnesota was tabbed the "Gopher State" when the drawing featured nine gophers with the
heads of local politicians pulling a train. The cartoon satirized a $5 million proposed legislative action in
pre Civil War days, but has had a lasting impression since the "Gopher" name still lives on.

The Minnesota Gophers became "Golden" in the 1930's thanks to legendary radio announcer Hasley
Hall's description of the University's football uniforms. Hall used the "Golden Gopher" term in reference
to the teams gold jerseys and pants that they began wearing in 1932.

The Minnesota squad had the Midas touch in the 10 year span that they donned all-gold uniforms. This
"golden" decade produced seven Big 10 titles and five national championships from 1932 to 1941.
Mascot: Goldy Gopher
The University  is represented by
what has to be the friendliest
gopher in the USA. "Goldy"
Gopher is also the biggest
gopher in the "Land of 10
thousand lakes" since he is
actually a human dressed in a
gopher costume. Youngsters
love the cuddly looking mascot
who makes appearances
throughout the state. Goldy can
always be counted on for digging
up fun at Gopher football games.
Golden Gophers
in the Pro Football
Hall of Fame
Where Cheerleading Began
University sports officials give credit to Johnny Campbell, a late 19th century Gopher student for
starting the tradition of cheerleading. Campbell was apparently drawn to action by an editorial that
appeared in the school paper after the Gophers had become mired in a three-game losing streak. The
paper pleaded for someone to "stir up enthusiasm for athletics .... " Later in that 1898 season, the first
official cheers rang out.

Campbell and his "yell leaders" made their debut in a game against Northwestern and stirred enough
emotions to help propel the Gophers to a 17-6 victory. And while the tight sweaters, and short skirts
that many football fans adore would come later, the true origins of cheerleading began on that
Minnesota fall afternoon.


Prior to the advent of cheerleading by Minnesota student body members, two rugby players developed
a team cheer in 1884 that still rings loud in the schools two official songs. The word "Ski", a Sioux
battle cry meaning victory was combined with "U-Mah" which represented Minnesota while rhyming
well with "rah-rah-rah".