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From New Hampshire College to University of New Hampshire

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In light of the recent Homecoming event at the University of New Hampshire, which broke records with a crowd of over 22,000 in the all-new Wildcat Stadium, here’s a look back on what brought this NCAA Division 1 football team to what it is today.

September 23rd, 2017 marked the University of New Hampshire’s annual homecoming football game. The event is known all over the state as the “best holiday of the year” bringing people from all over to tailgate and take part in the true college experience. Even I traveled all the way from Southern California to take part in the festivities at my alma mater. The event brought in over 22,000 people to the game at Wildcat Stadium, which opened with all new expansions in 2016 including the installation of  a $1 million dollar video score board with funds from Robert Morin, a former Librarian of almost 50 years,  who donated $4 million dollars to the school. But UNH wasn’t always a school of 15,000 with a million dollar score-board. It started in simpler times with a much smaller campus, population, and curriculum.

The University of New Hampshire started as the “New Hampshire College of Agriculture” and was located on the Dartmouth campus in Hanover, NH. It wasn’t until 1891 that Governor Hiram Tuttle signed a bill that authorized the college’s move from Hanover to Durham on Benjamin Thompson’s land that he left after he died. After the establishment of Durham as their new home, in 1892, building began for the first five buildings on the campus: Thompson, Conant, Nesmith, Hewitt Shops (now “Halls”) and the Dairy Barn.

The first football coach, William “Butch” Cowell was hired in 1915 and transformed Athletics at the University of New Hampshire into what it is today. As the first athletic director and football coach, he took the number of sports teams from 3 to 11 and gave students the opportunity to play some of the toughest schools in the country. Before the Yankee Conference was established, they played the “power houses” of New England including Harvard, Yale, Brown, Holy Cross, and the Army. The football stadium was named “Cowell Stadium” after the coach himself from 1952 until 2015 when it was renamed “Wildcat Stadium.”

It was also during this time that the first ever mascot of the new and improved school school premiered. The first ever wildcat went by the name of Maizie and debuted at the first ever homecoming in 1927. Maizie was a well loved mascot but her fun at UNH only lasted a few months until she died. She was stuffed and mounted and put in a case where she can still be seen today. The mascot has transformed over the years into what all “wildcats” know today as Wild E. Cat and Gnarlz the two cats who can be seen roaming around campus at events and sports games.

From Hanover to Durham, homecoming has brought students from all over together to celebrate the tradition and history of the University of New Hampshire: a well loved tradition that is sure to last for a lifetime.

 

 

Sara Cormier

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