Cody Meyers, Alumni Association assistant director for student programming and scholarships, remembers the first basketball game he attended at UTA. It was his sophomore year, and he went to the game with the Alumni Associations Student Organization.
“We went to the basketball games together,” Meyers said. “One of the big factors of the Alumni Associations Student Organization is to support other student programs on campus. So we went to the basketball games together, we went to a lot of them, I think I preferred going to the Movin’ Mavs basketball games just because they were a little more intense and we had a good time at them.”
It was at this game that Meyers saw Blaze the Maverick running up and down the bleachers, hyping up the crowd to scream and cheer for their team. Meyers, who enrolled at UTA in fall of 2007, remembers that as the period where Sam Maverick was transitioning out, and UTA was voting on the name of the new mascot.
“2007 was when we adopted Blaze as our new mascot,” he said. “Whenever I was here in 2007, Sam and Samantha Maverick was still painted on the wall of Bowling and Billiards. I was here when we named Blaze and all of that stuff.”
Blaze the Maverick is the latest in a long line of UTA mascots. When UTA, then called Grubbs Vocational College, joined the Texas A&M system in 1917, their mascot was known as the Grubbworm until an editorial ran in The Shorthorn in 1921 offered the Hornets as the new mascot.
The mascot was changed again, however, when the college changed to the North Texas Agricultural College in 1923. The school was represented by the Junior Aggies until 1949, when the new mascots, named the Blue Riders, were adopted because of the school uniform colors.
“I know [The Blue Riders] was very short lived,” said Spanish language junior Anthony Coca, who studied UTA’s history during his time as a UTA Ambassador. “It was actually proposed by the president of the university at the time, E.H. Hereford. He was the one that kind of pushed for the idea for the university to be called the Rebels.”
Hereford pushed for a student vote on the subject. The Rebels replaced the Blue Riders and remained UTA’s mascot from 1951 through 1971. During that time, the Rebels garnered a lot of controversy because they depicted a symbol of slavery, with one photograph showing a Rebel hoisting up the Confederate flag.
“It was kind of a tumultuous time during the university’s history,” Coca said.
In 1971, another student vote decided that UTA would be called the Mavericks, with its first mascot debuting in 1972 in the Arlington Stadium on top of another student dressed as a horse. Sam Maverick, named after a Texas landowner of the same name who was involved with the defense of the Alamo, represented UTA along with his female counterpart Samantha Maverick from 1972 to 2007, when Blaze took the stage, once again decided by student vote.
“I think it had to do with the face of the university,” interdisciplinary studies senior Melisa Gonzalez said. “Because we were the Mavericks, and everything that we had on us was a maverick, a horse. I guess we couldn’t really couldn’t incorporate Sam Maverick, the cowboy, with a horse. I feel like students started reacting to it and they said they wanted the horse instead of Sam Maverick.”
Meyers said that the change in mind set also had to do with the university re-branding itself in 2006.
“The university was re-branding all of our image for the outside community, and good old Sam just wasn’t really well representative of the diversity of our campus,” Meyers said. “When we have such a diverse student population, there needs to be an identity that is inclusive, and everyone can really relate to that mascot.”
Meyers said the mascot serves a good purpose in unifying the Maverick community, and hopes that students will come and support their teams, not just through homecoming weekend, but through the rest of the season.
“We’re here to get degrees and support our teams and be mavericks for the rest of forever,” he said. “It doesn’t end after you get that piece of paper.”