A writer from the Wichita Eagle reached out to me earlier this week to introduce UH to Wichita St fans, as he did for a media member or fan covering each AAC school. Mine are in the middle of the article. Looking back I probably mentioned those two Texas universities from up north too much. But he had to thin out what I emailed him because he had to cover each program and had limited space…
This is what I wrote in its entirety…
"Located in downtown Houston’s famed 3rd Ward, the University of Houston was founded in 1927 and is home to more than 43,000 students, the third largest in the state of Texas only behind Texas A&M and the University of Texas. The school was just designated a Tier 1 research university by the Carnegie Foundation in 2011 (one of only 115 universities out of America’s 4700 institutions qualified for that latest designation).
The Cougar became the official school mascot in 1946. Student Joe Randol won a contest to name her and ‘Shasta’ was born from the following submission, “Shasta (she has to). Shasta have a cage. Shasta have a keeper. Shasta have a winning ballclub. Shasta have the best.” A live Cougar lived on campus from 1947 through 1989. From 89 through 2012 Shasta only existed as a costumed mascot. However the Houston zoo now keeps a live Cougar as the mascot in partnership with UH.
Houston students and alumni are proud of the Cougar paw, our hand sign that was born in 1968 after a 20-all tie with Texas in football. Fifteen years prior Shasta was being transported to the game when one of her fingers on her paw was severed when the cage door was closed. When Texas fans heard of this they mimicked the animal by bending their thumb over their ring finger against their palm. The Coogs, as we call ourselves, lost that first game 28-7. UH fans turned that mimicking upside down after the tie in 68 to spurn the shocked Longhorn fans, using the sign as their own.
The athletics programs are thriving in the American Athletic conference as the football program has been labeled one of the best G5 programs in America and the basketball program has won 20 plus games in the past two seasons under head coach Kelvin Sampson, in just three years.
So, WHY Houston’s university? I felt best to take it to the streets, or in this case the’ innerwebs’ in asking what makes Houston’s University special and unique from the people in the know, IE students and alumni.
Hayley Snider spoke of her favorite traditions all being band related, “our marching band has a lot of history behind it. The Moffit era changed drill in the band world for the better with the Patterns in Motion style, and it’s always cool to me that Eat em’ UP and The House are really OUR songs (we played them first). Can’t forget the Womp Womp either.”
Emily Savannah Chambers, who’s set to graduate this semester, best sums up what many fellow students feel, “Our population represents people from all over the world. We’re tolerant of others. We work hard and we do more with less than other universities.”
Kerry Davidson (class of 1968) sums up what most alumni feels, “I love that we are not a blue blood like UT. We earned our way up the food chain with hard work and commitment, created a diverse student alumni body by opening doors to everyone in our great city. We persevere despite minimal state support while UT and A&M look down their noses at us with their coffers overflowing.”
Even famed UH football coach Bill Yeoman echoed this sentiment when he famously ushered, “It aint easy being a Houston Cougar, so get used to it” referring to always being the underdog.
Another alumnus, Leslie Burrer Mickelis (CO 93) stated it best when she said, “UH is the embodiment of everything that is America and Texas. We are the home for those families entering higher education for the first time. We are home for those students who are seeking a second chance. We do not care who your parents are. It doesn’t matter if your mom is in ‘The Daughters of the Republic of Texas’ or she’s a non English speaker. If you’re here to love UH, make Houston and Texas better and will support your university through thick and thin, then we will welcome you with open arms.”
While most of the other writers concentrated on just athletics, I tried to give WSU fans a look at our school from another aspect, which is what the writer led me to believe he wanted.
Very well stated. Thanks
Hate to be critical bc so many other posters do it so well; but how do you not mention Phi Slamma Jamma when introducing a basketball crazy school like Wichita to UH?
Maybe because it happen like over 30 years ago. Not saying its right, though.