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Photo by Marlayna Demond '11 for UMBC

Myth or Materiality: Does the True Grit Statue Really Bring Luck?

The UMBC mascot, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, or more commonly known as True Grit, is the pinnacle of hope and superstition. Originally sculpted by wax, but now casted in bronze, True Grit has set a tradition about 3 decades ago that students follow to date.

Rubbing the nose of the 500 pound, life-size statue, located between The Administration building and The Retriever Activity Center, is said to bring good luck, especially during finals week. True Grit’s nose has lost its bronze because of students rubbing on it.

What started out as an old wives’ tale spun into a legend that every Retriever follows at least once in their college years. As magical as it sounds, how much of that is true?

For years students have been kneading the nose of True Grit in hope of prosperity. Some have claimed that rubbing the nose of the statue has brought them luck while others claimed that it does not work.

Rajveer Rao, a freshman at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, majoring in Information Systems, proclaimed, “After I applied to be the Lab Assistant for Math 150, I visited True Grit and rubbed it’s nose, wishing I would get the job. During winter break I got an email saying that I acquired the position. I was thrilled with joy. The practical part of my brain tells me that it was my hard work that got me the job, but I also believe that there was an important role of luck that was definitely brought to me by True Grit.”

The credulous belief that students keep in True Grit increases once one of their wishes comes true. They not only follow up their first visit to True Grit, but take their friends as well, compelling them to give into the same beliefs.

The tale that spun around the nose of True Grit spread immense hope, but also paved the way for superstition. Superstitions often give people a sense of control. Students tend to follow it more than other groups, principally during exams. The solace that one finds when an unexplainable force has influence over outcomes is irreplaceable. Even if they recognize that superstitions have no logical reasoning, it can provide a psychological comfort that instills hope.

Rubbing the nose of True Grit is often labeled as a superstition, which makes it more attractive. Students rub the nose of the statue and are at peace with themselves, continuing about their day. They do their best to achieve their goals, while having the assurance that the outcome will be taken care of. Oftentimes, it is this stress-free attitude that students acquire after rubbing the nose which brings them luck. While this might seem surreal, it actually works! The notion associated with True Grit gives students tranquility of their attempts succeeding.

The faith that students have in the story of wishes coming true by True Grit is what drives the wish to turn into reality. The optimism that comes with believing in good things is a primal feeling in human beings. It is the buoyancy that pushes humans to chase after their dreams. This simple phenomenon applies perfectly to students. While in college, every student strives to do their best. Although they are motivated, there is a need for a belief in a nonexistent force that gives them the reassurance of success.

Tejas Tyagi, a freshman at UMBC with a focus in Computer Science, agreed, “I think it is the positivity that comes from good luck being within reach which makes the myth so believable. I have never tried rubbing the nose of True Grit, for I do not think it would work. However, I do find the thought of my wish being effortlessly approved appealing.”

Believing in a baseless tale might be comical, but this belief can do miracles. The stronger the belief is, the higher the chances are of a wish coming true. As students rub the nose of True Grit, their belief in sanguine hope and good luck, along with the hard work that Retrievers put into their ventures, makes their wish attainable. 

The True Grit statue, the hubbub of UMBC, is not only an attraction but also a refuge and a support system to all Retrievers. It has made the wish of thousands of students come true, brought them luck, and helped them get through hard times. The tale of rubbing the nose of True Grit spread enough positivity and hope to get students to believe it will work. For many students, the hope that they foster in the legend makes their dreams come true. For some students, it is the blind faith in rubbing the nose of the statue that aids them in their accomplishment. And for others, it is the comfort in the superstition stuck to True Grit that assists them in succeeding. Either way, True Grit undoubtedly lent a hand in helping Retrievers be their best selves for an unforgettable journey here at UMBC.

Hasitha Bhandaru is a freshman computer science major and a probationary writer for The Retriever. Contact Hasitha at