With the results of women's intercollegiate events now sharing the sports pages with the men's, it is important that the proper designations be applied to the female teams. But the distinctions are not always clear.
Teams at women's colleges are not likely to be confused with any male counterparts; e.g., Sweet Briar's "Vixens" leave absolutely no doubt about their sex. But what about women at coed institutions that have longstanding masculine names for their athletic teams? At these bastions of male athleticism many solutions have been attempted, the most common being to place the prefix "Lady" before the traditional male tag. Thus, there are Lady Lions at Penn State, Lady Tigers at LSU, Lady Buckeyes at Ohio State, Lady Gators at Florida, Lady Vols at Tennessee, Lady Bulldogs at Mississippi State, etc. The female of the mascot species is not in favor, perhaps because alumni fathers and mothers might feel uncomfortable about teams called Tigresses, Cows or Bitches. However, there are Lionesses at Paine College in Georgia.
Some schools cling to the traditional male animal, with ludicrous results: Philadelphia Textile refers to its women's teams as Lady Rams. Logic also fails as regards South Carolina's Lady Gamecocks and Motlow State's (Tenn.) Lady Bucks. A Muhlenberg College (Pa.) Mule can be of either sex. But a new name altogether was needed at Delaware, where the men's teams are the Fightin' Blue Hens. They tried Blue Chicks for the girls, but the connotations were disturbing. Thus, they turned to Lady Hens, which seems redundant, unless you attend Delaware.
Another sex change was undertaken at Vassar, which is now 43% male. After looking about for a label for the men's teams, Vassar came up with Brewers; it also retoned the old school colors of pink and gray, turning to masculine red and white for uniforms.
May 3, 1981
At many schools the feminine diminutive suffix "-ettes" is attached to the male label. There are Pitt's Pantherettes, Winston-Salem State's Ramettes, Florida A&M's Rattlerettes, Pace University's (N.Y.) Setterettes, the University of Saskatchewan's Huskiettes, Tougaloo (Miss.) College's Bulldogettes and Mississippi Industrial College's Tigerettes.
"Women" instead of "men" is a comfortable suffix transformation, as seen with Syracuse's Orangewomen, Hofstra's Flying Dutchwomen on Long Island, N.Y., and Nebraska Wesleyan's Plainswomen. However, St. Mary's of Winona, Minn. had Lady Red-men until two years ago when it renamed its women's teams the Reds. Lady Statesmen hold forth at Delta State (Miss.) and William Penn of Iowa.
Pembroke (N.C.) State has a curious tribe of Lady Braves, and, speaking of sexual hangups, how do you explain to the Pope about the Lady Friars at Providence? But no such problem exists at Heidelberg College (Ohio), where the men are (what else?) Student Princes and the women are Student Princesses. Thank you, Sigmund Romberg. And the University of Wyoming has no difficulty when the Cowgirls ride the same sports pages as the Cowboys.
At least four variations on the theme of the Trojan warrior may be found: Troy (Ala.) State has its Lady Trojans, Dakota State its Trojan Women, Virginia State its Trojanettes and Taylor University of Upland, Ind. its unique Trojanes.
Two notable feline variations, the Wayne (Neb.) State Wildkittens and Peru (Neb.) State Bobkittens, have given way to Lady Wildcats and Lady Bobcats, respectively.
A difficult problem exists at dear old Rutgers. Do gender rules permit Lady Scarlet Knights? Well, that would be better than Scarlet Women. Actually, Rutgers calls them Lady Knights. The question remains, do lady letter winners receive scarlet letters?
Perhaps the neatest solution of all comes from Maryland's Salisbury State College, where the men have always been the Sea Gulls. Yes, Ogden Nash, the women are the She Gulls.
One final irresistible advertisement of the advent of women's teams: at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, the Tarzans have been joined by the Janes.