The Mascot


Text and photos by Nathan Morgan

IT’S SAID THAT university mascots bring good luck. If so, UT Martin should have no shortage of good fortune. In its 119-year history, the university has had four university nicknames and four mascot characters. From 1927-1951, UT Martin’s athletic teams were known as the Junior Volunteers. When UT Martin became a senior college in 1951, the name evolved into the Baby Vols or Little Vols. Then, in 1971, the university set out to select a new identity in an attempt to distinguish itself from UT Knoxville. Among the names considered were: Takers, Cobras, Pioneers, Pacers, Commanders and, interestingly enough, Hawks. After taking a poll of the students on campus, the name Pacers was selected, and a decade later the first mascot characters were born. Pacer Pete, a six-foot blue-and-orange roadrunner, was introduced to students and fans in January 1981. Later, in the fall of that same year, a pacer horse named Chuckie and a sulky driven by Curtis Sullivan, became the “official” mascot and representative image of the Pacers. A few years later, a third character, Pace-Her Polly, was created when Bettye Giles, then director of women’s athletics, wanted a female version of Pacer Pete. The Pacer trio would be used until 1995 when the university assumed its current nickname, Skyhawks, and the mascot Captain (Skyhawk). “From the Archives” is a feature highlighting unique and interesting items from the Alliene and Jimmie S. Corbitt Special Collections. For more information or to make a donation, contact UT Martin Special Collections and Archives at 731-881-7094 or

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