The G.O.A.T of Chapel Hill
(Image courtesy of Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)
In a sea of Carolina Blue, one animal is the G.O.A.T. While rival schools are symbolized by The (Blue) Devil or Demon (Deacon), UNC Students are proud to be represented by Rameses XXII. Rameses XXII, a Horned Dorset ram from northern Virginia, can be seen at UNC Football Games with an adoring flock of followers. I had the opportunity to speak with the Hogan Family, who have been taking care of the Rameses dynasty for nearly one hundred years.
(Video by UNC Chapel Hill)
1. Can you describe the Horned Dorset Ram?
The Horned Dorset used to be the most common sheep in the United States. If you are a sheep farmer, you don't want horns because horns can be dangerous. North Carolina State University in the I960s bred a hornless Horned Dorset called a Polled Dorset. The Polled Dorset species is now a ubiquitous sheep. While the Horned Dorset is considered quite unusual and categorized as a threatened species.
(Image courtesy of Getty Images. Image taken by Peter Cade)
2. If the species is threatened, how did you find Rameses?
Currently, there are not many places you can find Horned Dorsets. However, there happens to be Cassell Horned Dorsets Farm in Wytheville, Virginia, that raises and shows the rams, and that's where we go to get Rameses.
(Image courtesy of https://www.purelygates.com/mylar-virginia-postcard)
3. Why is Rameses the mascot for UNC- Chapel Hill?
In the early 1920s, the UNC football team was called the Tar Heels, but they did not have a mascot. One of the football players, Jack Meritt, was nicknamed the Battering Ram. Merrit, a great football player, thought that the name had a nice ring to it. My husband's grandfather was on the football team, and he volunteered to keep the ram on his family farm nearby the school. For the past ninety-eight years, the Hogan family has been taking care of Rameses.
(Image courtesy of https://northcarolina.n.rivals.com/news/no-29-jack-merritt)
4. How did COVID-19 impact the farm and Rameses?
COVID-19 meant that there Rameses did not attend the 2020 football season. The lack of football season meant that we had the chance to train a very young Rameses XXII. UNC minimized capacity of the stadium to adhere to CDC regulations.
(Image by Shuttrstock)