Dear Ace: I’m confused. UVA’s mascot is the cavalier, but the students are all called “hoos,” which, to me, seems to have more to do with a big-eyed nocturnal animal than some dude on a horse. What’s up with that?—Lee Harvey Owlswald
Lee: It’s quite natural to be confused. Ace has always said, confusion is the mother of curiosity. Perhaps the ‘Hoos were named after that delicious chocolate milk drink in the yellow bottle. Or maybe the name derives from the ticker symbol of Cascal N.V. (HOO), a limited liability company that provides water and wastewater services to customers in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Indonesia, China, Chile, Panama and The Philippines. Perchance those in Hooville take their nickname from the Hoo-Ahh, a disposable hygiene system used by hunters and campers for removing wilderness dirt.
Alas, no. It can’t be any of those. Everyone knows the ‘Hoo nickname has been around much longer than anything Ace just listed. And anyone who’s (‘Hoo’s?) anyone knows that “Hoo” is a nickname for the larger nickname, Wahoo. And of those anyones, most everyone knows the nickname dates back to the late 1800s when, during a baseball game against Washington and Lee, some unruly W&L fans called UVA players “a bunch of rowdy Wahoos,” borrowing the nickname from UVA’s chant, “wah-hoo-wah.” That’s kind of funny, too, because UVA originally got the chant from a Dartmouth College student, who invented it as an Indian yell. Many universities—like Ohio State and the University of Illinois—borrowed it, but it was at UVA that it really stuck. By 1892, the yell was getting top billing in the University’s annual.
As Ace was saying, it’s not surprising that you’d be confused. But, let Ace assure you: The ‘Hoo and the Cavalier have little to do with each other, save for the fact that they both represent the good ole orange and blue.
Personally, Ace speculates that the students’ Wahoo nickname comes from the Acanthocybium solandri, or, as it’s more commonly known, the Wahoo fish, which can drink twice its weight in water. You know the old idiom, “drinks like a fish?” Put two and two together.
…Oh, come on. At least Ace didn’t call ‘em a bunch of rowdy Wahoos. Now that’s an insult.
You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 19 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to email@example.com.