The Origins of Ski-U-Mah
The University of Minnesota’s Ski-U-Mah chant was invented by students in 1922 and would be used for decades to come. It gained most of its notoriety during the 1960s and ’70s when it was featured during games for both basketball and hockey.
The tradition continues today, and fans will yell the iconic Ski-U-Mah along with the players on the court during important games.
What does Ski-U-Mah Mean?
Ski-U-Mah is a phrase that many Western Michigan University fans yell at the end of the Alma Mater during the school’s marching band’s pregame routine.
It’s a tribute to the school’s first dean of men, Fred Mahan. The Enigma, the school yearbook, explained the phrase this way in 1956: “For many years, the students and alumni at WMU have joined together in chanting the name ‘Ski-U-Mah.’ The exact origin of the phrase is not known, but it was in use at Varsity Field in 1925 when Dean Mahan was first associated with the institution.”
The Varsity Field event mentioned in the Enigma was an end-of-the-year football banquet and rally. That’s where students first chanted, “SKY! U! MACH! SKI! U! MAH! U! PACE!”
School officials believed that this call originated from an athletic pep meeting and yell practice. That’s why �‘Alma Mater’” was said in the same rhythm as the title yell.
Does Ski-U-Mah Have Anything to do with Skiing?
One of my students asked me why the University of Utah mascot is a mule and what does the word “Ute” mean.
The first thing I told him was why a mule and not a moose! It turns out, the mule was chosen because of the many similarities between this humble creature and the great attributes of our fine students. When faced with a task, the Utah mule gets the job done, is loyal to the end, and is the most sensible of all the animals.
Also, there is a popular story of a mule’s surprising agility that is said to have happened in the 1920s.
A mule belonging to a mining company near Sinclair, Utah got angry with his master and ran away. The mule slipped and fell into a large hole, hanging on the steep side. A herd of cows wandered by and saw the mule’s predicament. They proceeded to push the mule up and out of the hole.
There is a small town in a remote area of Alaska called "Ski U Mah". It is really small you may not even see it on some maps. But there is a reason why the inhabitants of the town like to have their home identified this way.
"Ski U" means "Small Ski" and "Mah" means "Big Ski". In other words, Ski U Mah means "Small Ski Mountain".
The residents of Ski U Mah have heard that the neighboring town of Seward, which is near Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula, has been teasing the residents of Ski U Mah that Ski U Mah is a bit dull (which Sky U Mah is not the case at all). So the citizens of Ski U Mah decided to come up with a clever response and named their town Ski U Mah.
Where is Ski U Mah?
Ski U Mah is in the middle of nowhere and is several hours drive from Anchorage. As a matter of fact, many people who relocate to Ski U Mah don't realize that it is so far away from Anchorage. They don't realize the hard fact that it takes them one and two hours to drive home from work after a hard day's work.