Football was being played in Oklahoma before it was even a state. First came the phrase “Boomer Sooner” in the 1898 season. The next year the Oklahoma football team picked up the nickname, “The Rough Riders” perhaps from the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, which was formed in 1898. The volunteers, led by Theodore Roosevelt, were mostly college athletes, cowboys and ranchers gathered from Oklahoma and other states in the American South West to fight in the Spanish-American War. A few years later, in 1905, back on the football field the Rough Riders became the “Boomers.” Finally, in 1908 the team in crimson and cream became known as the “Sooners.” That year the Sooners beat Texas 50–0.
When the Unassigned Lands of what would become part of Oklahoma opened for settlement at high noon on April 22, 1889, many of those who came rode in Conestoga wagons. These rough-hewn “Schooners” boldly carried up to six tons of cargo, across plains and through rivers. Built from wood and iron, they were known for their durability and toughness. The Sooner Schooner was introduced at Oklahoma in 1964, and the wagon, pulled by matching white ponies Boomer and Sooner, became the official mascot of the Oklahoma Sooners in 1980.