Meet the Terps

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A tradition for football players at the University of Maryland, this year’s Homecoming foe, is to touch the nose of their mascot for good luck before each home game. Photo: Greg Fiume/University of Maryland Intercollegiate Athletics.

Homecoming opponent Maryland is a Big Ten newcomer.

On October 25, the Badgers will face off against the University of Maryland Terrapins during Wisconsin’s Homecoming football game. The 2014 season marks Maryland’s first as a member of the Big Ten conference, and whether this makes them friends or foes, it’s time to learn a little more about the Terps.

Muppets, but no Mendota

The Adele H. Stamp Student Union, known as The Stamp, is one of the core spots for social activities on the UM campus in College Park, Maryland. Outside the building is a statue of alumnus Jim Henson talking to Kermit the Frog.

As for the view: The Stamp is adjacent to an outdoor amphitheater that kind of looks like a grassy version of the Memorial Union Terrace without any chairs, sailboats, or beer.

A weightier mascot

In 1933, UM unveiled a 300-pound bronze statue of its new school mascot: Testudo, the diamondback terrapin. (It’s a turtle.) Almost immediately, the statue became a target for rival schools. Johns Hopkins students kidnapped Testudo in 1947, and University of Virginia students did so again two years later.

The terrapin then went into hiding before being filled with 700 pounds of cement and getting bolted to its perch in the 1950s. The original statue now sits in Byrd Stadium, with replicas placed elsewhere on campus.

Fiery traditions

Before each home game, Terrapin players touch Testudo’s nose for luck as they run into the stadium. Maryland spectators enjoy singing their fight song (titled “Fight Song”), “reminding” referees to move the sideline chains, and jingling their keys during major offensive plays. (Badgers, of course, only shake their keys during kickoffs.) And each time the Terps score, a small cannon is fired. Bucky’s pushups seem safer.

Learn more about the Wisconsin versus Maryland matchup and the rest of the festivities happening during Homecoming Week at uwalumni.com/homecoming.

Published in the Fall 2014 issue

Tags: Athletics, Badger, football, homecoming

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