Monday, March 21, 2011

ROCK CHALK!!!! - an explanation of the Jayhawk and other things

As a mother of two sons, both of which attended or are presently attending the University of Kansas, the Jayhawks and all surrounding them have become embedded in our family. We have spent time in Lawrence, Kansas and absolutely love the town. I do not hesitate in the least to say that we will forever have crimson and blue blood running through our veins. The hype, the hullabaloo, the hurrah surrounding KU athletics is now a part of who we are and what we do. I thought maybe I should take a minute and explain a few things about the beloved Jayhawks since we are on our to the sweet 16.

1912 Jayhawk
Mascots are believed to bring good luck, especially to athletic teams. KU is home of the Jayhawk, a mythical bird with a fascinating history. Its origin is rooted in the historic struggles of Kansas settlers. The term "Jayhawk" was probably coined about 1848. Accounts of its use appeared from Illinois to Texas. The name combines two birds-the blue jay, a noisy, quarrelsome thing known to rob nests, and the sparrow hawk, a stealthy hunter. The message here: Do not turn your back on this bird.
1920 Jayhawk
During the 1850's, the Kansas Territory was filled with such Jayhawks. The area was a battleground between those wanting a state where slavery would be legal and those committed to a Free State. The factions looted, sacked, rustled cattle, and otherwise attacked each other's settlements. For a time, ruffians on both sides were called Jayhawkers. But the name stuck to the free staters. Lawrence, where KU would be founded, was a Free State stronghold.
1923 Jayhawk
During the Civil War, the Jayhawk's ruffian image gave way to patriotic symbol. Kansas Governor Charles Robinson raised a regiment called the Independent Mounted Kansas Jayhawkers. By war's end, Jayhawks were synonymous with the impassioned people who made Kansas a Free State. In 1886, the bird appeared in a cheer-the Rock Chalk Chant. When KU football players first took the field in 1890, it seemed natural to call them Jayhawkers.

How do you draw a Jayhawk? For years, that question stumped fans. Henry Maloy, a cartoonist for the student newspaper, drew a memorable version of the Jayhawk (top left) in 1912. He gave it shoes. Why? For kicking opponents, of course.

In 1920, a more somber bird (top right), perched on a KU monogram, came into use. In 1923, Jimmy O'Bryon and George Hollingbery designed a duck-like Jayhawk (second image on left). About 1929, Forrest O. Calvin drew a grim-faced bird (near right) sporting talons that could maim. In 1941, Gene "Yogi" Williams opened the Jayhawk's eyes and beak (left), giving it a contentious look.
It is student Harold D. Sandy's 1946 design of a smiling Jayhawk (left) that survives. The design purchased from Sandy and was copyrighted in 1947 by the KU Bookstores. The University of Kansas later registered the design as its official service-mark and it is still one of the most recognizable and unique collegiate mascots in the country.

Information is from "Traditions", published by the KU Office of University Relations.

As the most popular sport with the University's students and alumni alike, Jayhawk basketball has a pedigree unlike that of any other KU athletic team.

It can boast among it  coaches the sport's inventor, James Naismith, as well as the man widely regarded as the father of basketball coaching, Forrest  "Phog" Allen. It can count among its heroes any number of dominant players including Wilt Chamberlain, whom some regard as the greatest basketball player ever.

These names are backed up by the numbers: The Jayhawks lay claim to four national championships and have won nearly 30 more conference titles than any of its conference foes.

Some of the success of the men's team has spilled over to the women Jayhawks who can boast one of the greatest collegiate women's players of all time in Lynette Woodard.

Surprisingly, perhaps, basketball was not always the most popular sport on campus. At different times both football and track could have claimed that distinction. Even Naismith conceded in 1910 that he had "always believed that football was the typical college game." Thus the team grew to national dominance rather quietly. Its first NCAA Tournament title in 1952, however, ensured that the sport would no longer remain an afterthought on Mt. Oread.

In 1988, its fifth Final Four appearance since 1952, KU succeeded in claiming its second NCAA Tournament title. The 1990s saw the University boast the best winning percentage in college basketball and reach the national semifinals of the NCAA Tournament twice, even advancing to play for the national title once. However, the decade might best be remembered by KU basketball fans for a series of tournament letdowns that characterized the latter half of the 1990s.

Nonetheless, the Jayhawks continue to be title contenders at the dawn of the 21st century. The Jayhawks of 2001-02 and 2002-03 were the eleventh and twelfth KU basketball teams to reach the Final Four. (find more of this article at The History Of KU)

The Chant

KU's world famous Rock Chalk Chant evolved from a cheer that a chemistry professor, E.H.S. Bailey, created for the KU science club in 1886.

Bailey's version was "Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, KU" repeated three times. The rahs were later replaced by "Rock Chalk," a transposition of chalk rock, the name for the limestone outcropping found on Mount Oread, site of the Lawrence campus.
The cheer became known worldwide. Teddy Roosevelt pronounced it the greatest college chant he'd ever heard. Legend has it that troops used the chant when fighting in the Philippines in 1899, in the Boxer Rebellion in China, and in World War II. At the Olympic games in 1920, the King of Belgium asked for a typical American college yell. The assembled athletes agreed on KU's Rock Chalk and rendered it for His Majesty.

And now for some funstuff:


Test your skill by turning this origami Jayhawk into an inspirational figure. Download and print out Hawkigami himself and the instructions by clicking below.

KU EcoHawk Car

Click on the download below to send this fuel-efficient car driving to your desktop. Print it out, cut the pieces and assemble for your own replica EcoHawk. The instructions are on the PDF download  be sure to have a good pair of scissors and tape handy. To learn more about KU's EcoHawk project,
visit the official project Website.

Download EcoHawk!

(248KB PDF)
Just a word about this project, I am building one, notice I did not say "built" as I finally just decided to take a break and it sits on my desk very much unfinished. This project is not for the weak of heart or scissor challenged. Oh and follow the instructions.......I'm just sayin'

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