Testudo owes his existance to Dr. Harry Clifton “Curley” Byrd, perhaps the greatest guy to ever grace this earth. The Crisfield, MD native starred on the football team in his younger days and later coached the Maryland team. Everyone loved Curley, and in 1935 he became president of the University, a position he served until 1954. As president he raised from the State Legislature the money that built many of the campus’ buildings.
As the football coach in 1932, Byrd recommended a Diamondback in response to the student newspaper’s quest for an official mascot. The Diamondback (a snapping turtle) is indigenous to the Chesapeake Bay. The school paper was already named The Diamondback, so it seemed a logical choice for a mascot.
Before becoming turtles, the school’s teams reffered to themselves as the Old Liners, the origin of which is uncertain. Some claim that refered to a Revolutionary War Troop of Maryland soldiers, while others think the name comes from those disputing the Maryland-Pennsylvania border. Regardless of how it came into existance, the Old Liners is an incredably stupid name for a college sports team.
The yearbook, the Student Government Association, and the Class of ‘33 (who held their Senior Prom on campus in order to save up enough money) all pitched in to cast a bronze Diamondback turtle. Edwin C. Mayo, a Class of ‘04 graduate and former football quaterback, used the fine education he recieved at Maryland to atain the position of President of Gorham Manufacturing in Providence, Rhode Island. As a token of appreciation for all the fine memories that the university blessed him with, Mayo donated at cost the magestic 300 pound turlte. Robert J. Hill cast Aristide Cianfrani’s masterpiece and did such a fine job that he inspired the yearbook to change its name from the Reveille to The Terrapin in 1935.
There is a great deal of conspiracy regarding the name “Testudo.” Testudines is the scientific name for turtle, and testudo gigantica is a species African turtles. Notice however the hidden word stud in teSTUDo. There is no way that this is purely a coincidence.
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