How each OUA team got its name: Part three

Laurier, Nipissing, McMaster, UofT, Algoma


Laurier Golden Hawks

Originally known as ‘Waterloo College,’ the school that would later become Wilfred Laurier University had a series of unnamed sports teams for nearly 40 years until lobbying from students brought forth an official name in 1951: The Mules.

Meant to signal the school’s then-close relationship with Western University—whose sports teams are The Mustangs—The Waterloo College Mules was a short-lived and widely disliked moniker for the school’s athletes, not the least of which because it produced the unflattering nickname “The Jackasses.”

Amid a university-wide rebranding, the name was ultimately changed to the “Golden Hawks” in 1961. The name “Hawks” arrived through popular consensus vote, with “Golden’”added shortly after to pay homage to one of the school’s primary colours.

Nipissing Lakers

Although information on it is scarce, there’s one big clue as to how Nipissing University came up with the name for its sports teams: Lake Nipissing.

Located on the shores of North Bay, the city in which the Nipissing University is located, Lake Nipissing is the third-largest lake in Ontario and is etymologically derived from an Ojibwa word meaning “little water”—a name meant to signify its relative size to that of the Great Lakes.

McMaster Marauders

When athletes began competing for McMaster in the 1910s, they wore green and black jerseys on the field of play. Per the prevailing tradition, they were also unnamed.

Upon opting for new colours which were more easily washable—maroon and grey—a name that was submitted to the school’s newspaper in 1948 emerged shortly thereafter: “The Maroon Marauders.”

Although it took a considerable amount of time to catch on—with numerous teams sporting individual labels throughout the ensuing decades—eventually, the “Marauders” title was adopted university-wide.

University of Toronto Varsity Blues

Much the same as McMaster and Laurier, the University of Toronto’s sports teams competed for decades without an official name.

Despite playing their first competitive contest in 1881, it wasn’t until the 1930s when the university’s teams went by more than their interchangeably used nicknames, “The Blue and White” and “The Big Blue”.

More succinctly, they became referred to as “The Blues” which, much like their earlier nicknames, drew inspiration from the colour of their jerseys.

Algoma Thunderbirds

A former residential school built on land gifted by the Anishinaabe people, Algoma University is a school that prides itself on cross-cultural education, something which likely  featured in its name choice for its athletic teams, the “Thunderbirds.”

Not only is the Thunderbird an important figure in many Indigenous cultures, but it’s also widely considered a symbol of hope—something the school readily embodies in its educational mandate.


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