UAA Traditions: What's a Seawolf?
The Legend of the SeawolfDerived from multiple legends in Native Alaskan folklore, the University of Alaska Anchorage adopted the moniker ‘Seawolves’ for its intercollegiate athletic teams in 1977, coinciding with UAA’s ascension to a 4-year university and the beginning of its official membership in the NCAA.
From 1972 until 1977, the school’s athletic teams had been known as the Sourdoughs – meaning a longtime Alaskan – however that mascot was abandoned in favor of something fiercer and more recognizable to those outside the 49th State.
Still in search of something uniquely Alaskan, which would celebrate the state’s rich cultural history, former basketball coach Bob Rachal researched the legends of the tribes of Southeast Alaska and discovered a striking totemic creature that appeared to be half wolf/half sea creature.
Although known as Gonakadet in the Tlingit tradition and Wasco by the Haida, this formidable creature was commonly referred to as the ‘Sea-Wolf.’ Among the most common fables was a version in which a noble young man, resilient in nature, uses his ingenuity to conquer the Sea-Wolf. Clad in the animal’s skin, he uses its strength and magical powers to fish for sea life, thereby saving his village from starvation.
Simultaneously strong, generous and humble, the Sea-Wolf was also said to bring great luck and wealth to anyone fortunate enough to spy it, or hear its soulful howl. The name fit perfectly with UAA and the image it wished to portray.
Alternately called the Sea Wolves or Sea-Wolves in those early days, the nickname was simplified to Seawolves prior to the 1978-79 season. The Seawolf logo of today was introduced in 1985, a creation of Clark Mishler & Associates of Anchorage. Sleek and modern, yet still representative of the totemic tradition, the Seawolf logo stands as one of the most unique in all of college sports.