As much as the Xs and Os, as much as the action on the field, as much as the end result at the end of a hard-fought matchup, college football is defined by its traditions. Nothing captures the pride and passion of the sport more.
At the University of Virginia, the Wahoo Walk is once again an integral part of the Cavaliers’ game day tradition but what exactly is it?
What is the Wahoo Walk?
The Wahoo Walk takes place around two and a half hours before kick off at every Virginia home football game. Fans of the program line the street just outside of Scott Stadium — the home of the Cavaliers — and cheer the team on as they walk as one into the stadium ahead of the game.
In the early 2000s, the Wahoo Walk was an integral part of the game day experience at Virginia. Then, abruptly, it was cancelled ahead of the 2016 college football season. However, when Tony Elliott took over as head coach from Bronco Mendenhall ahead of the 2020 campaign, it was reinstated.
The new version of the Wahoo Walk features a tripped down route. Originally, fans would line Engineer’s Way down to Whitehead Road, flanking Stadium Road all the way to Scott Stadium. The revised route sees Virginia players arrive at the southeast corner of the stadium, just off Whitehead Road.
Although it’s a shortened route with less opportunity to see the players, the Wahoo Walk is still an exciting and important opportunity for Virginia fans to get close to their on-field heroes while showing the team their support ahead of the Cavaliers game.
While the Wahoo Walk tradition enables fans to show their support to the team, it’s also embraced and beloved by those college football players that represent the University of Virginia. Football is the ultimate team sport, and gathering together in unity ahead of the game, entering the arena as one, is particularly powerful.
“It’s just giving fans, friends and families the opportunity to see the guys before they prepare to go into battle,” former quarterback-turned-coach Marques Hagans told UVA Today ahead of the return of the Wahoo Walk in 2022. “Hopefully it will be a big part of our home game routine for years to come.”
Where does the Virginia nickname Wahoo come from?
The Wahoo Walk is back as one of the University of Virginia game day traditions, but establishing what the walk entails is perhaps the less important question relating to the pre-game routine. College football fans from outside of Charlottesville have every right to wonder what exactly is a Wahoo?!
Well, a wahoo is actually a type of fish, a viscous, teeth-bearing mackerel, but that has little to do with the University of Virginia.
The Wahoo nickname can be traced back to the late 1800’s, when during a Virginia baseball game against Washington and Lee, fans of Virginia’s in-state rival referred to their opposition fans as a “bunch of wahoos.” While seeming like a relatively tame insult in the modern era, it must have had a profound impact as the nickname has stuck ever since.
Among multiple nicknames for the program, including the Cavaliers moniker more commonly known by people outside of Charlottesville, wahoo is often shorted to “Hoos”, hence the popular social media hashtag, #GoHoos.