The university colors of blue and gold were chosen in 1873 by a committee of representatives from each class. Blue was considered because it reflected the sky, student cadet uniforms, and Yale, from which many of the university’s founders and early administrators had graduated. Gold was considered because of California’s designation as the Golden State, the view of the Golden Gate, and the color of many native wildflowers. Unable to choose, the committee turned over the decision to the women, who suggested using both colors.
In 1895, a 12-man track team was sent east as the first athletic team to compete outside of the state. It carried blue silk banners emblazoned with the word “California” and the state emblem, a grizzly bear, in gold. The team was successful beyond expectations, winning or tying six meets. When their banners were displayed at the jubilant homecoming reception, the Golden Bear became Cal’s mythical guardian.