The largest cat in North America is a fierce and powerful animal that is as smart as it is muscular; a fitting symbol of what it takes to be successful on the field and in the classroom. That symbolism is among the reasons Jaguars has been selected as the nickname for the University of Houston-Victoria.
After an extensive process involving input from students, staff, faculty and the community, Jaguars leaped out of a pack of over 200 possible names submitted to UHV interim athletic director Ashley Walyuchow during the search for a nickname. In December, Walyuchow met with separate groups made up of students, faculty members, staff members and community members to narrow the list down to a few favorites.
“There was a lot of creativity shown in the 200 plus names submitted and we had a lot of fun with some of the suggestions,” Walyuchow said. “Of course, a few were a little too creative or could have been misinterpreted. But of all the names the focus groups settled on, there was one that made everyone’s list and that was Jaguars.”
According to UHV President Tim Hudson student involvement was a key component of the process. “The students really did a great job of getting us to this point. It was very important to let them take a leadership role in creating a symbol that will represent the entire student body, not just student athletes.”
Despite being nearly thirty-five years old, UHV had never adopted a mascot, an omission that became obvious when it launched athletics last fall by announcing its intention to field men’s baseball and women’s softball teams.
Last fall, to provide input, a student committee was formed by Student Senate President Danny Ochoa. “The student committee gave serious consideration to each of the 200 plus names before coming up with our list of finalists submitted for further review,” Ochoa said. “As student senate president, I am proud of the professionalism the students involved displayed and am proud to have played a role in the history of UHV."
President Hudson added, “Even a faculty committee participated in the naming process. Their insightful comments as well as marketing expertise contributed to a clever and well-thought out name.”
At the UHV cabinet retreat in January, cabinet members were presented with various names from the students, faculty and small group discussions, and were tasked with narrowing the nicknames down to a short list of finalists. Further research was conducted on these to determine if any were in wide use, which made the most sense to the region and which might stand the test of time. The final names were also sent to respected marketing professionals in Texas for input. In the end, the overwhelming favorite was Jaguars.
“The Jaguar is a powerful animal that conjures up images of self reliance, dignity and respect in the minds of people,” remarked UHV President Tim Hudson. “As a member of the cat family, the jaguar ties us to the University of Houston Cougars. The name Jaguars also has some local history behind it that connects us to our region. We’re confident that it will resonate with our audiences and will provide ample opportunity to build a strong brand identity for UHV.”
UHV head baseball coach Terry Puhl supports the choice. “Our athletes want to put on their uniforms and wear them with pride,” he said. “Jaguars is a name we can wear with pride on the field and as we represent UHV in the community.”
“Jaguars works very well for female athletes,” Keri Lambeth, UHV’s head softball coach said. “We plan to be tough, agile and resourceful just like big cats.”
According to Texas Zoo Executive Director Eddie Overbay, this region was once heavily populated by jaguars but it’s been awhile since there was a jaguar sighting. Overbay said, “The last jaguar spotted in this region was back in the 1950s.”
Two jaguars which currently call the Texas Zoo home; one male, Piedras (which means rock or stone in Spanish) and one female named Rio; are among the Zoo’s most popular. “The young kids really love these beautiful animals.”
Selecting the nickname is part of a more elaborate process of branding the university as well as its athletic teams in its ongoing efforts to be a university of choice. According to Walyuchow, “We expect to unveil team logos sometime this summer and introduce uniforms in the fall. UHV Jaguar merchandise will go on sale later this year.
Recruitment is underway now for the first ever UHV Jaguars who will take the field in early 2008.