March Madness Mascots & Nicknames 101: What Is A Catamount?

March Madness Mascots & Nicknames 101: What Is A Catamount?
  • Tanya Ray Fox

While the “Catamounts” nickname is not a popular one among United States colleges, the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will feature a team of Catamounts this year. While some may know what a catamount is, it’s certainly not an everyday word these days. There’s no shame in needing a quick lesson.

So in the interest of giving you the best possible shot at impressing your friends with obscure college nickname knowledge this weekend, here is a quick Mascots 101 class on the Catamounts – and where/when you’ll see them during March Madness.

Two colleges in the United States use the Catamounts nickname.

*Will play in the 2017 NCAA Tournament

  • University of Vermont*
  • Western Carolina University

This is Vermont’s sixth all-time appearance in the tournament while Western Carolina has had one bid, back in 1996.

What does “Catamount” mean?

A catamount is really just another word for a cougar or a You know, a mountain cat. Get it?! Obviously mountains are a key local geographical necessity for a team named the catamounts. Western Carolina is nestled along the Blue Ridge Mountains, considered part of the Appalachians, in Cullowhee, North Carolina. Meanwhile Vermont is located in Burlington, surrounded by the Adirondack Mountains.

Where to see the Catamounts in this year’s tournament:

Vermont is the No. 13 seed in the Midwest region and will play No. 4 Purdue in the first round of tournament on Thursday at 7:27p ET on truTV.

What mascot do teams nicknamed the Catamounts use?

Vermont’s mascot is an anthropomorphic catamount named Rally, who makes a habit of wearing the team’s basketball uniform at games. Western Carolina’s version is very similar. His name is Paws and he sports a purple mane as an homage to the school colors, while also usually decked out in team apparel.

Tanya Ray Fox

Tanya Ray Fox is a sportswriter and producer who has worked for nearly 7 years in both digital and television sports media. She has previously worked in TV production experience for Comcast SportsNet New England, NFL Network and Time Warner Cable Sports. In addition to her work for SportsGrid and appearances on the affiliated FNTSY Sports Network, she is also a contributor for USA Today's Rams Wire.