Throughout this academic year, the University of Richmond is celebrating 125 years of Spiders, a name that extends far beyond the mascot and refers to the entire community of UR alumni, faculty, staff, current students, and friends.

The Spiders trace their unique moniker to 1894, when a heckling fan yelled something about Richmond’s baseball players having arms like spiders. Reporters repeated the nickname, and it stuck.

Richmond has the only Spider mascot in collegiate athletics. Spiders are even incorporated into the academic curriculum. Faculty, staff, and students in the biology department care for and study a number of tarantulas, including the official mascot of the men’s basketball team, Tarrant.

In the 125th year since the University embraced its Spider identity, Richmond is celebrating a thriving community of Spiders. Today there are more than 51,000 Spider alumni worldwide.

“The web that connects all Spiders now spans the globe and is woven of confidence, ambition, excellence, and accomplishment,” said University President Ronald A. Crutcher. “These are the characteristics that unite the entire Spider community.”

“Being a Spider for me boils down to two things: a Spider exhibits and is held to a very high scholarly aptitude, and a Spider genuinely cares for a cause,” said Michael Kitimet, a senior majoring in mathematics and minoring in economics. “During my time at UR, I have discovered my passion for education equity and empowerment, which led me to apply for a Davis Projects for Peace grant to help support the establishment of a community library in my hometown in Kenya.”

Leland Melvin, UR board member, astronaut, and Spider, said, “My own Spider experience gave me the academic and athletic confidence to pursue ambitious dreams that eventually led me from the NFL gridiron to the tranquil beauty of seeing our planet from the International Space Station. My professors and coaches instilled in me a high level of curiosity and grit that helped this proud Spider to rise."

The Spider anniversary will be celebrated at events this year and into next year, including:

  • Homecoming, Nov. 2-4
  • National Spider Day, March 14, 2019
  • Reunion, May 31-June 2, 2019

Learn more about 125 Years of Spiders.

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