It was 1933, and the college we know today as SUNY Cortland needed a better nickname.
Founded in 1868 as Cortland Normal School, a school for teachers, its prevailing moniker—the “Normals”—didn’t seem appropriate for a college with an abnormally impressive football team riding a 15-game unbeaten streak, outscoring opponents 165 to 15 in the process.
So when a team manager, inspired by the flying-red-horse trademark adorning Mobil gas stations, suggested “Red Dragons,” it stuck. The rest, as they say, is history.
And what a history it has been. In the past three decades alone, our athletic program has won 23 national team titles in eight sports, nearly 100 individual national crowns and more than 200 conference team championships.
Red Dragon spirit may have started with sports, but it doesn’t end there. Today it permeates the campus through student social life, community service activities and theatre productions. You’ll also find it in annual events such as Honors Convocation, Transformations: A Student Research and Creativity Conference, Midnight Breakfast before finals and, of course, in the competition for the Cortaca Jug, awarded to the winner of the each year’s football game between SUNY Cortland and rival Ithaca College.
Red Dragon spirit equals Cortland spirit — the spirit of champions, and it’s obvious in the classrooms, across the campus, on the athletic fields and in just about every other place Cortland students or alumni come together.