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Why Is Iowa State Called the Cyclones

Why Is Iowa State Called the Cyclones?

Iowa State University, located in Ames, Iowa, is known for its athletic teams, which are affectionately referred to as the Cyclones. The nickname has a long and rich history, dating back to the late 1800s. This article will explore the origins of the Cyclones nickname and its significance to the university.

The Origins of the Cyclones Nickname

The origins of the Cyclones nickname can be traced back to a football game that took place on November 16, 1895. Iowa State, then known as Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm, faced off against Northwestern University. In a stunning upset, the Iowa State football team defeated Northwestern with a final score of 36-0.

Following the game, a Chicago newspaper reporter wrote, “Struck by a Cyclone: It Comes from Iowa and Devastates Evanston Town.” The reporter used the term “cyclone” to describe the team’s fierce and unstoppable play. This headline caught on and soon became associated with the university’s athletic teams.

The Significance of the Cyclones Nickname

The Cyclones nickname holds great significance to the university and its community. It represents the resilience, determination, and strength exhibited by Iowa State’s athletic teams throughout history. Just like a cyclone, the teams are known for their powerful and relentless performances.

Moreover, the Cyclones nickname reflects Iowa’s geographical location. The state of Iowa experiences its fair share of severe weather, including tornadoes. The nickname serves as a reminder of the state’s resilience in the face of natural disasters and the university’s ability to overcome challenges.


1. Are the Cyclones the only athletic teams at Iowa State?
No, the Cyclones nickname is used to refer to all of Iowa State’s athletic teams, including football, basketball, volleyball, and more.

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2. Is the Cyclones nickname officially recognized?
Yes, the Cyclones nickname is the official nickname for Iowa State’s athletic teams. It is registered with the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) and is widely recognized across the country.

3. Do other universities have similar nicknames?
While many universities have animal-related nicknames, such as the Tigers or the Bulldogs, the Cyclones nickname is unique to Iowa State University. It sets the university apart and adds to its distinctive identity.

4. Are there any traditions associated with the Cyclones nickname?
Yes, Iowa State fans have embraced the Cyclones nickname and incorporated it into their traditions. For example, during football games, the crowd performs the “Cyclone Power” cheer, where they raise their arms and spin in a circular motion, mimicking a cyclone.

5. Have there been any notable achievements by the Cyclones athletic teams?
Yes, Iowa State’s athletic teams have achieved numerous notable accomplishments over the years. The football team has had successful seasons, including bowl game victories, while the basketball team has made several appearances in the NCAA tournament.

In conclusion, the nickname Cyclones holds a special place in the hearts of Iowa State University and its community. It originated from a newspaper headline following a historic football victory and has since become an integral part of the university’s identity. The Cyclones nickname represents the team’s strength, resilience, and unwavering commitment to excellence. It is a symbol of pride for Iowa State and its dedicated fans.

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