Why Is Iowa State Called the Cyclones

Why Is Iowa State Called the Cyclones?

Iowa State University, located in Ames, Iowa, is widely known for its strong athletic programs, particularly its football team. The teams at Iowa State are commonly referred to as the Cyclones. But have you ever wondered why this unique nickname was chosen? In this article, we will delve into the history behind the name and explore its significance to the university and its sports teams.

The Origin of the Cyclones:

The nickname “Cyclones” was officially adopted for Iowa State University’s athletic teams in 1895. Prior to that, the university’s teams were referred to by various names, including the Cardinals, the Goldfinches, and the Bulldogs. However, it was during a football game against Northwestern University in Chicago that a sportswriter coined the term “Cyclones” for Iowa State.

During this game, Iowa State’s team displayed remarkable resilience and determination, battling through tough weather conditions and refusing to back down. The sportswriter was so impressed by their tenacity that he compared them to a cyclone, a powerful and unstoppable force of nature. This description perfectly encapsulated the team’s spirit, and the nickname stuck.

The Significance of the Cyclones:

The cyclone symbolizes strength, power, and unity, all of which are characteristics that the athletic teams at Iowa State University strive to embody. Just like a cyclone, these teams are known for their relentless energy, fierce competitiveness, and unwavering commitment to their goals.

The nickname also holds a special significance to the state of Iowa. Iowa is situated in the heart of “Tornado Alley,” a region prone to extreme weather conditions, including powerful tornadoes. The cyclone nickname serves as a reminder of the resilience and determination that Iowans possess, both in the face of natural disasters and in their pursuit of success.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

1. Are there any mascots associated with the Cyclones nickname?

Yes, Iowa State University has a popular mascot named “Cy,” short for Cyclone. Cy is an anthropomorphic cardinal bird donning the university’s colors of cardinal and gold. He can be spotted at various sporting events, entertaining fans and cheering on the teams.

2. Has the Cyclones nickname always been used for all sports at Iowa State?

No, initially, the nickname was solely associated with the football team. However, over time, it was adopted by all athletic teams at the university. Today, the Cyclones nickname is used for all sports, including basketball, volleyball, wrestling, and more.

3. Are there any specific traditions associated with the Cyclones nickname?

One of the most cherished traditions at Iowa State is the “Cyclone Alley.” This is a student organization that supports and cheers on the basketball team during home games. The student section, known as the “Hilton Magic,” is renowned for its energy and enthusiasm, creating an electrifying atmosphere that boosts the team’s morale.

4. Have the Cyclones achieved any notable accomplishments?

Over the years, the Cyclones have achieved significant success in various sports. The football team has had numerous bowl game appearances, while the basketball team has made multiple NCAA tournament appearances and won several conference championships. Other sports such as wrestling, volleyball, and track and field have also seen their fair share of success.


The Cyclones nickname has become an integral part of the identity of Iowa State University. It represents the indomitable spirit of the university’s athletes and the state of Iowa. The name symbolizes strength, power, and unity, qualities that are deeply ingrained in the university’s athletic programs. So, the next time you hear the term “Cyclones,” remember the rich history and the unwavering determination that this name embodies.

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