A couple of days ago, the new logo for the new University of Texas Rio Grande Valley was unveiled. The Vaquero finally came to life. What do Valley folks think? According to an article by Greg Luca published in the Monitor the designer received a standing ovation. The design, I heard in the news, was meant to look brave and heroic.  I think they succeeded, for the Vaquero and his horse look intense.

I never understood the conflict and controversy generated by the selection of a Vaquero to be the new mascot. I can understand UTPA’s campaign to keep their beloved Bucky, for it goes back a long time and is reminiscent of tradition and school history. But a Vaquero is a hero. If you have not read accounts of the Valley in the 1910s and 1920s, I recommend you do so.  If it wasn’t for the Vaquero the agricultural expansion of the Valley would have taken much, much, longer to materialize. The challenges and struggles they faced herding wild horses and cattle amidst the fierce South Texas Brush is astonishing. The area’s brush was –and still is in some parts – a dense collection of thorny bushes with plenty of rattlesnakes not to mention inclement heat and back then a few bandits and opportunists.

The Valley was the Wild West, and border justice was not a joke. A Vaquero was a brave, hardworking individual who cemented the Valley’s history and placed it on the map. If it wasn’t for their work, hundreds of settlers would have thought twice before choosing to farm in the Valley leaving their farms throughout the Midwest behind.

But going back to the logo, I find it a tad fierce, and in my (girly) imagination a Vaquero was more romantic. My vision includes sunsets and open fields, and a man tired and sweaty after a long day of hard dusty work; a brave man that could also be a gentleman if a young “senorita” bestowed him her attention. But the new generation – who might not have read the early accounts of our Vaqueros – desires a different hero, so the new logo meets their demands: A more Marble-Comics-like hero for the younger generation. It is perfect.

And for those who think a Vaquero is a Spanish word; it is not. Check it out in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. It is also the root word for buckaroo (cowboy, broncobuster).

For more on this read Greg Luca’s article on the Monitor. Photo of logo also from the Monitor.