Thunderbirds, T-Birds or just the ‘Birds — UBC’s varsity athletic teams are represented by the sometimes goofy mascot we’ve come to know and love. But he wasn’t students’ first choice.
In 1933, students overwhelmingly voted to be the UBC Seagulls — a write-in joke candidate in a university-wide poll for a mascot. You might have seen the AMS Birb walking around campus since the student society has kept the original choice around.
But the UBC Pep Club and The Ubyssey weren’t enthusiastic about having a seagull represent them and did what they thought was best — pick the name themselves.
Although UBC started to officially recognize varsity athletes as “Thunderbirds” in 1934, the university did not consult or gain permission from the Musqueam people or any other nation to use it. The Thunderbird is an important figure for many Indigenous peoples.
It was not until 1948 that Chief William Scow of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation gave UBC permission to use the name and a traditional ceremony was held during the homecoming football game.
The Thunderbird mascot represents UBC’s 26 athletic teams. Here’s a few highlights of the past season:
The seventh-seeded women’s volleyball team came from behind to win the national championship against the top seed and local rival Trinity Western University. This marked UBC’s thirteenth women’s volleyball national title.
UBC dominated at the division level, with both soccer and cross country teams, women’s hockey, women’s rugby, women’s rugby sevens and women’s swimming teams capturing Canada West banners.
The baseball team, men’s and women’s golf teams and women’s track and field, secured banners in the Cascade Collegiate Conference, under the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
The women’s track and field team won back to back NAIA championships and the men’s team came second. Ten T-Birds walked away with individual gold medals as well.
There are also a few festive events to show your school spirit with varsity teams through the year.
Homecoming is September 16–23, culminating with a football game with a roaring student section on the 22. Courtside is a basketball festival, hockey hosts the Winter Classic and Pride Night is an annual celebration of 2SLGBTQIA+ Pride with fundraising volleyball games.