What's a Nanook?
Nanook is a derivation of the Inupiaq Eskimo word for polar bear "nanuq." All University of Alaska Fairbanks sports teams are called "Nanooks." UAF was established in 1917 and basketball teams were nicknamed the Polar Bears. After 1963, the Polar Bears became known almost exclusively as the Nanooks, after the Eskimo word for polar bear. Incidentally, up until the mid-70s, the men's basketball team was known as the "Flying Nanooks" because of the regular, and long, airplane rides they need to take in order to compete with other college teams. Now, all UAF sports teams, including men's basketball, women's basketball, swimming and volleyball, rifle, hockey and cross country running and skiing teams, are Nanooks.