Behind the Scenes: The Cavalier Mascot
Sept. 16, 2006
The first documented Cavalier on horseback was Francis Bell, a Virginia student from Dublin, Va., in 1947. Bell and another member of the Student Independent Party, a non-fraternity political group at the University, rode onto the field dressed as Cavaliers for Virginia’s home football game with Harvard on the afternoon of October 11.
The identity of the other horseman is unknown.
The Cavalier on horseback returned as the University’s mascot in 1963. One of the first riders was Doug Luke, a Virginia student from New York. Luke grew up in the Adirondacks and came to the University from Lawrenceville.The mounted Cavalier and his horse parted company in 1974 with the inception of AstroTurf at Scott Stadium. From 1974 to 1982, the Cavalier performed on foot. The ‘Hoo, an orange-costumed mascot, made a brief appearance in 1983, but did not capture the support of the student body.
The costumed Cavalier with a large character head debuted the following football season in 1984 and has remained the official mascot of the University. The Cavalier performs with the UVa cheerleaders at all football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball games as well as various other University-related and athletic events. The Cavalier is selected from the student body through open tryouts.
The mounted Cavalier made its return in the Florida Citrus Bowl at the end of the 1989 football season. Due to its instant popularity, the Cavalier on horseback returned the following season on a regular basis. Members of the UVa polo club and mounted police alternated as the Cavalier until 2000.
Charlottesville native and longtime UVa football fan Kim Kirschnick is the current Cavalier. This season, Kirschnick and his horse Sabre, the name selected by Virginia fans in 2004, enter their sixth season of leading the Virginia football team onto the field at the beginning of all home games.