If you are an alum of the University of Virginia, you can probably skip this next lesson. But for anyone who is new to the Charlottesville area, it might help to explain a term you will hear frequently.
At Charlottesville’s University of Virginia, the students call themselves Wahoos. The term has been in place since 1893 so it is not a new phenomenon. According to Wikipedia, several factors converged for the Wahoos to claim that name. A school chant using the term was used as an Indian yell at Dartmouth College as early as 1878 but was abandoned by Dartmouth when political propriety rendered it obsolete. Around the 1890’s the Washington and Lee baseball fans referred to the University of Virginia fans as a bunch of rowdy Wahoos, and they used the Wahoowa chant as a form of mockery. However the UVa students instead adopted that nickname of Wahoos, and by the 1940’s the term had been shortened to calling themselves Hoos.
So now the students of UVa are the Wahoos. Or Hoos. You’ll see it and hear it all over town when you live here. The official name of the UVa sports teams is the Virginia Cavaliers, so there’s a lot of “cavalier” imagery here as well.
The chant might mystify newcomers. When you attend your first UVa sporting event, after the team scores you’ll hear the chant of “Wa-hoo-wah”! And it might be followed by The Good Old Song which is an alma mater tribute of UVa, and the lyrics include the Wahoowa chant. At first The Good Old Song (same tune as Auld Lang Syne) sounds very proper and sleepily “southern”. Fans stand and sway to the music as they sing. Dreamy slow verses of reminiscence and nostalgia. But soon that idyllic lilt is punctuated by loud rapid-fire cheers.
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