History of the Nickname "The Cobbers"
Excerpt taken from the book:
"Concordia Men's Athletics - The First 100 Years" by Vernon Finn Grinaker.
Concordia athletic teams had many names before settling on the "Cobbers". Early Concordia teams were called Lutefiskers, Corncobbers, Corncobs, Concordians, Lutherans and Vikings. Where did the name "Cobbers" come from? There seems to be different stories about its origin.
The college 1944-1945 Student Directory mentioned that at the time of the college opening in the early nineties, the campus was not a part of Moorhead's beautiful residential district as it is today. I. F. Grose, the first president, commented that the lone building of the college was surrounded by cornfields on three sides. Due to the setting of the college, the students, when they made their way to the downtown district were greeted as "Corncobs."
Rev. Bogstad, in his book Concordia College Through 50 Years described how the name "Cobbers" originated:
"Cobbers" has become the popular name for the students of Concordia College. It has found its way to honor and dignity, though the name was not thus intended in its beginning.
Since there exists a misunderstanding regarding the origin of this name, the writer wishes to state the facts. The name "Cobbers" has been derived from "Corncobs", a nickname given to the Concordia students in 1893 -- intended as a term of ridicule.
As previously mentioned in this book, there was at that time another private institution (Hope Academy, a Swedish school) located in the northern part of Moorhead. Some of the students at this school seemed to look with envy upon the success which Concordia enjoyed from its start.
After the boys' dormitory had been erected, literary entertainments were held in the basement which then was called the Commercial Hall -- now the main dining room. These programs were well attended by people from both Fargo and Moorhead. As the school on the North side failed to duplicate this patronage by the public, a feeling of jealousy developed.
For this reason some of the boys from downtown came to disturb the programs at Concordia. To them must go the credit of composing the following lines which they took great delight in yelling, loud and repeatedly:
Hva' ska' Ni Ha?
Lutefisk and lefse --
Yah! Yah! Yah!"
The "Corncobs" resented the disturbance of their programs and took measures to prevent it. Robert Thorn, a student of those early days, now a prominent citizen of Cooperstown, North Dakota, relates the following:
"The students at Concordia rendered a program in Commercial Hall on Lincoln's Birthday, February 12. Scarcely had the program begun when the electric lights went out. The audience was left in the dark. We students understood that the rowdies from town had been at work, tampering with the lights. We were determined to put a stop to this.
"On Washington's Birthday, February 22, another program was to be rendered. In the meantime we boys had organized a company to overtake the invaders and lay them low. Sentries were placed on watch who were to notify the main guard as to when and where to strike. This plan proved successful. The 'enemy' were routed with pugilistic fist-fights and were left standing knee-deep in the mud in the ravine directly north of the present Administration building. We had less trouble with the town boys after that."
The prevailing idea among the later students at Concordia regarding the term "Cobbers" has no foundation. The intimation has been given that the cornfields surrounding the school in those early days may have provided the cue for the name. However, the fact is that there was scarcely even a trace of a cornfield in the Red River Valley fifty years ago, and certainly none in the vicinity of Concordia College. The popular opinion at that time was that corn could not be raised so far north. That was a crop for southern states.
"Cobbers!" A handy and a proper name. "Cobber Mothers." "Cobber Football Team." "Cobber Basketball." "Cobber Baseball," etc. For the Golden Jubilee Gift the writer would suggest this slogan:
Hva' Ska' Ni ha'?
Three Hundred Thousand (Dollars)
Yah! Yah! Yah!(1)
The Concordian reported the reaction of the student body to the name "Corncobs":
We are proud of our college, proud to be students of it and proud to belong to its growing alumni. We are zealous workers and advertisers for Concordia College, but we cannot afford to be know by a name which in itself has a depreciative suggestion.(2)
A story in a later issue of the Concordian lamented the fact that the college did not have a satisfactory name for its athletic teams. The article stated that a name should be short, easy to use in songs and yells and have some connection to the college. The name "Viking" was suggested but it did not catch on with the student body.(3)
About this same time, the Fargo Forum sportswriters were calling Concordia's teams "Cobbers." This did not really catch on until 1928 when the Concordian used the name in their reporting. In 1932 the name of the yearbook was changed from Scout to Cobber and the name became permanent.