Traditions and Spirit Groups

Still very young at age 52, many of UMBC Athletics’ traditions are still evolving. But the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, the state dog of Maryland, was anointed as UMBC’s "mascot" only weeks into the school’s first semester (1966) and has stood proudly ever since. A champion “Chessie” by the name of “True Grit” was the model for the statue which has adorned the area between the Administration Building and the RAC since the late 1980’s. It was sculpted by UMBC alum Paulette Raye ('87, Philosophy). “True Grit” usually sports a cap (no gown) and occasionally holds a diploma in his mouth at graduation.

The department reinstituted varsity Cheerleading as of the 2006-07 academic year. The squad performs at all home basketball games, other selected campus events, and travels to the America East Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. For more information, contact Shelly Ringgold. Ms Ringgold has an extensive background coaching cheerleaders and is also a world class fitness competitor. She can be reached at

The Down and Dirty Dawg Band and the UMBC Dance Team are recognized as one of the America East Conference’s top spirit units as they display their talents at the league basketball championships each year. The Dance Team was formed in 1996 and has been performing at UMBC Basketball games and other campus events for the last two decades. Several former members have continued to perform after UMBC, including earning spots with the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins squads.

Another tradition which has been around for awhile is the UMBC Athletic Hall of Fame. The UMBC Athletic Hall of Fame was instituted in 1970’s, and has grown to include 117 members. In 1990, former Director of Athletics Dr. Charles Brown created The Annual Hall of Fame Dinner, where past Hall of Famers can welcome new entrants. Hall of Famers are chosen by a committee of athletic alumni based on their excellence on the fields and courts and their subsequent graduation from UMBC.

The “UMBC Riser” was penned by Dr. George LaNoue, UMBC professor emeritus of Policy Sciences. Early in his UMBC tenure, Dr. LaNoue served as an assistant lacrosse coach and also served as the chairman of the UMBC Athletic Policy Committee.

UMBC Riser
Stand up and cheer, UMBC
Forward we go, to another victory.
Retrievers, be bold,
We back you as we stand,
Black and gold, the best in Maryland.
Rise up and sing!
Stand up and roar!
Make echoes ring from the moutains to the shore.
Baltimore's pride, our alma mater grand,
UMBC, the best in an-y land!

The Down and Dirty Dawg Band plays the Fight Song as the Retrievers take to and leave the courts or the fields of competition. The band, formed in 1995, is currently under the director of Paul Wetzstein. They have performed on both ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's The Today Show. Not only is the band outstanding musically, but their barking out of “UM—BC, Go Big Dawgs” is a student favorite.

The Retriever Kids’ Club was created in 2004 and is the official UMBC fan club for kids ages 12 and under. In addition to getting plenty of “free stuff” and the chance to meet the players, every member of the Retriever Kids’ Club receives complimentary admission to all home basketball games at the RAC.