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Cowboy Countdown (1891-2011)

Celebrating a history of excellence, pride, and tradition
By Dave Shelles

Volume 13, Number 1 | Fall 2011

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Cowboy Countdown 1891 — The Cowboys
The Cowboy nickname was applied to Wyoming athletic teams as early as 1891—two years before the first official football game. According to legend, the university's pickup football team was locked in a fierce rivalry with the Cheyenne Soldiers. So they convinced a 200-pound cowpuncher, Fred Bush, to sign up for a college course or two and come out for the team. Bush reported for practice decked out in a checkered shirt and wide-brimmed hat. Amused onlookers gave the "cowboy" a friendly heckling, and since many of the players were also ex-cowboys, the name stuck.

1895 — Brown and Gold
The origin of the Cowboy colors dates back to the first UW Alumni Banquet in the spring of 1895. Decorations included brown-eyed susans, a flower native to southeastern Wyoming. The alumni were so impressed with the beauty of the blooms that they selected brown and yellow as the school's official colors. In recent years, yellow has been renamed first "Prairie Gold," then "Gameday Gold."

1912 — Ragtime Cowboy Joe
The Wyoming fight song was originally written in 1912 by Grant Clarke, Lewis F. Muir, and Maurice Abrahams. Abrahams conceived the song after his young nephew, Joe, paid him a visit in full cowboy regalia. Muir, a Tin Pan Alley composer of some renown, put the finishing touches on the melody, and Clarke contributed the words. "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" was a No. 1 hit for Bob Roberts in 1913 and later covered by Eddy Howard, Jimmy Durante, and the Chipmunks.

1922 — Homecoming
Wyoming's football team was scheduled to play its first homecoming game at Cowboy Field on October 14, 1922. There was just one small problem—the tiny athletic grounds had no seating for fans. Fortunately, Samuel H. "Doc" Knight, head of the university's geology department, rallied students and alumni to construct a set of bleachers. They finished the work just a few hours before the Cowboys took the field.

1920s — Steamboat
The bucking horse and rider have been a symbol of Cowboy athletics since the 1920s. To create the logo, UW equipment manager Deane Hunton traced a 1903 photograph of bronc buster Guy Holt astride the bucking horse Steamboat at the Albany County Fairgrounds. Steamboat, so named due to his high-pitched wheeze, is still regarded on the rodeo circuit as one of the greatest bucking horses of all time.

1950 — War Memorial Stadium
UW's current football venue was dedicated September 23, 1950, with a 7-0 win over nationally ranked Baylor University. Standing at an elevation of 7,220 feet, it's the highest Division I football stadium in the United States. (The Air Force Academy's Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs is a distant second at 6,620 feet.)

1950 — Pony Cowboy Joe
Also in 1950, the Farthing family of Cheyenne donated a young pony to become UW's mascot. Today his successor, Cowboy Joe IV, trots around the field after UW touchdowns and represents the university at parades and events around the state.

2005 — Jonah Field
In 2005, the natural grass at War Memorial Stadium was replaced with state-of-the-art artificial turf, thanks to generous donations by John and Mari Ann Martin and Mick and Susie McMurry. The field was renamed in honor of a natural gas mine in Sublette County whose profits provided $5 million for the improvement of UW athletic facilities.

2009 — The Cowboy Walk
Before each Cowboys home game, the Western Thunder Marching Band leads the football team from the Hilton Garden Inn to the team locker room at the Rochelle Athletic Center through a gauntlet of cheering, high-fiving fans. The Cowboy Walk tradition was started in 2009 by head football coach Dave Christensen.

2011 — UW's 89th Homecoming
At noon on October 15, the Cowboys will kick off the homecoming game against University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Show your Poke Pride at the pre-game pep rally on October 14, 7:30 p.m., at the Arena-Auditorium.

 

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