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Tale of the Top Shell
Testudo is a Diamondback turtle. Like some other famous personages born
into the Depression of the 1930s, the derivation of his name is cloudy.
But it is likely that his moniker is derived from the scientific
classification for turtle (testudines). Or the top turtle could be named
after testudo gigantia, a species native to the African nation of
Seychelles and one of its
remote islands, Aldabra. Or the name could
have come from a dictionary definition that says the word, testudo, was
derived from the Latin and meant a shelter held over the head of Roman
soldiers -- like a tortoise shell. These explanations are a long way
from the Chesapeake Bay where the Diamondback lives.
When Testudo had his coming out on May 23, 1933, he was thrown into a
world filled with intimidating mascots -- Wildcats, Tigers, Devils,
Wolves, Bears -- thought up over a half-century of intercollegiate
competition. Maryland College Park was consolidated from different state
schools in 1920 to form the base of today's wide-ranging state system,
and the remodeled Maryland needed a flag carrier to do battle with
Wahoos, Lions and Generals.
Dr. H.C. Byrd, a football coach who later became University President,
recommended the Diamondback as mascot in 1932 in response to the student
newspaper's search for an "official" leader. Byrd's childhood in
Crisfield, Md., apparently included skirmishes with this brand of
snapping turtle, indigenous to the Bay. The school paper was in fact
already called The Diamondback, and when the Class of 1933 stepped
forward with the idea of giving the University a permanent bronzed
version as its graduation gift, Testudo's family was in to stay.
Maryland had been referring to itself as Old Liners, yet another name
whose derivation of which no one seems sure. Historians are in a
scrimmage over whether the nickname is a reference to a Revolutionary
War Troop of Maryland soldiers who distinguished themselves on the field
of battle, or they feel it could refer to a squabble with Pennsylvanians
over just where the border between the two states should be.
The Class of '33 raised money for casting a Diamondback by holding its
Senior Prom on campus to save money on expenses. And the yearbook and
Student Government Association chipped-in. Edwin C. Mayo, Class of '04
and a former quarterback, donated at cost the 300 pound bronzed beauty
as President of Gorham Manufacturing in Providence, R.I. Robert J. Hill
cast the inspired sculpture accomplished by company artist Aristide
Cianfrani. Further turtleization came when the student yearbook, The
Reveille, became The Terrapin in 1935. Newspapers, even then exploring
every angle, shortened Terrapin to Terp for headline writing ease when
it wasn't trying to cram Old Liner into a single column head. The name
was in place; now came the stuff of legend.
Maryland Victory Song
Maryland, we're all behind you.
Wave high the black and gold,
For there is nothing half so glorious
As to see our men victorious.
We've got the team, boys,
We've got the steam, boys,
So keep on fighting, don't give in!
Maryland will win!
Maryland Alma Mater
Hail Alma Mater!
Hail to thee, Maryland!
Steadfast in loyalty,
For thee we stand.
Love for the black and gold,
Deep in our hearts we hold,
Singing thy praise forever
Throughout the land.