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6 years ago
In These Waters, The Flying Dutchman Ain’t No Ship

BY HARRY SPEECE

 LVC Sports Historian

One of the most unique nicknames in college sports, Lebanon Valley College’s ‘Flying Dutchmen’ name often confuses people. It is not, as many assume, named after the famous sailing ghost ship, but rather is a product of the area known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country. (Dutch being an Anglicization of the word ‘Deutch’ or German, and not actually referring to the people from Holland.)

The true origin of the Flying Dutchmen nickname is somewhat ambiguous, but is known to have its start in an article that appeared in The Lebanon Daily News on Sept. 12, 1932. Writer G.O. Gettum wrote in that column that, with the prominent football programs of the day such as Yale, Princeton and Penn State having mascots, why not Lebanon Valley College? ‘”The Blue and White collegians,'”he wrote, “like most superstitious athletes, believe a mascot of some kind would bring them more luck’.

At the end of the article, Gettum called for reader submissions as to what the nickname should be, as he noted that LVC players “racking their brains between exercises as to what to adopt for a mascot”.

Three days later, Gettum followed up with an article explaining that the first reader suggestion was for LVC to adopt the nickname of Cedars, with a black cat for a mascot. Since that year’s football team was “of good size’, he noted, it was an appropriate nickname.

The cat mascot would not have been far off either, as fate would have it,. After football practice that week, Coach E.E. ‘Hooks’ Mylin and Assistant Coach Bill Buser were walking to Buser’s car, only to find a cat asleep in the back seat. The coincidence spurred Mylin, also the Director of Athletics, to call for the students to pick a mascot.

It was later in that article, on Sept. 15, 1932, that the Flying Dutchmen nickname was first proposed. Gettum wrote that the name, from an unattributed source, was appropriate because “Lebanon Valley College is almost in the center of Pennsylvania Dutch country”.

It isn’t known whether Mylin ever put the proposition out to the students of LVC; there was never a follow-up in the Daily News on the subject. What is known is that the first “in the wild” use of the nickname was a month later, in the Daily News on Oct. 17, 1932, in a preview for LVC’s game with Juniata College. The unattributed writer remarked that the ” ‘Flying Dutchmen’ have really been looking forward to this game since the season opened”.

The moniker only appeared a few times in the Daily News for the rest of that year, and didn’t appear in an LVC yearbook until 1935. But by then, it had stuck.

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