From the Archives is The Gateway’s ongoing series of recounting historical articles written by the publication from years past.
It’s widely believed that the University of Alberta’s women’s intercollegiate teams took on their name in the fall of 1945, upon the conclusion of World War II. But, the source and story behind the name is largely unknown to many on campus. Part of being the campus media source for the past century means reporting on these events in real time. After voting in a Gateway sports poll, U of A students actually dubbed the women’s athletic teams as the Pandas in February 1945.
Despite losing their game to the University of Saskatchewan women’s team — then called the “Huskiettes” — the Pandas still held a 13-year victory streak from 1926 to 1938. In addition, this article also unveils traditional sports dynamics at the U of A. For instance, it acknowledges the rivalry between Saskatchewan and Alberta intercollegiate teams, which still exists. Interestingly, it also reports that the Panda’s first mascot was Pandy, who appears to be Patches’ predecessor.
This article serves as a lasting record for the naming of the Pandas, and the U of A’s longstanding commitment to athletic excellence.
The following article is taken from the March 1, 1945 edition of The Gateway.
Tommy McClocklin is satisfied with the Pandas.
“In the past eight years I have coached a lot of basketball, but I’ve never been as proud of a team as I am of you today.” Coach Tommy McClocklin was addressing the Pandas after their last-second loss to the Huskiettes. McClocklin was pleased. He had a right to be pleased. The Alberta girls, after a sensational thirteen year victory streak from 1926 to 1938, during which time Alberta held the Cecil E. Race Trophy, have been something short of phenomenal since 1938, and the U of A students have almost forgotten that the co-eds ever did win an Intercollegiate series.
Last fall, McClocklin said he had a championship team. The girls were convinced, but most other people had heard that yarn before. McClocklin was right. The Pandas — named only last week after a Gateway sports poll — have the stuff of champions.
By two points the Pandas lost to Saskatchewan. The finals will be played on Saturday in Athabasca gym. The girls must win the afternoon game, and the night game as well. They think they can do it. We think they can, too. McClocklin, considering the handicaps to the girls, thought of the loss as a moral victory. On Saturday he expects a more substantial victory. Coach Bud Carson of the Huskiettes can be counted upon to make a great effort to retain the Race Trophy, however.
By the way, while McClocklin is praising the Pandas, we might note what they think of him. It is safe to say that there never was a more popular coach around than this dark-haired player-coach-referee personality. McClocklin is deserving of general university recognition as one of our finest sportsmen.
You’ll want to get a good look at “Pandy.” The Alberta mascot made a real hit in Saskatoon. The girls dote on him, as we gathered talking with the team the other night. You’d better be on time for that game at 2:00 p.m. for a couple of reasons. The second is that no one can be admitted except before the game, at quarter, and at half-time.
While the girls hold the spotlight, let us congratulate the Rigby Trophy-winning Golden Bears. They play the Huskies, featuring Bud Carson and Captain Alex Yaremchuck, at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, immediately after the Saskatoon game. The rivalry between these two teams is traditional, and this game won’t be any let-down.
Steele Brewerton has announced the plans for the Assault-at-Arms, details of which appear elsewhere on this page. Steele himself, present holder of the Wynnychuck trophy, will take on the fiery-haired dynamo of the Engineers, Ronnie Helmer. Steele is concerned about getting an opponent for Lennie Maher. This wiry little battler is reportedly one of the cleverest boxers at the U.., and has been a city high-school champion. Lennie’s ring-partner will probably come from overtown.
Hockey has given up the limelight for intercollegiate basket-ball, but Stan Moher is almost ready to ring down the curtain on another year. The Engineers are eagerly waiting for the Med-Dents and the finals.
THERE’S LOTS MORE SPORTS, BUT NO MORE SPACE