The Hoya yell first appeared in print with accounts of Georgetown football games against North Carolina and Swarthmore in November, 1893.
With the onset of intercollegiate sports at Georgetown, cheers and yells became an important part of the game. Fans employed a variety of yells in the early years of the program, many common across college football programs such as the "locomotive" (G-E-O-R-G-E-T-O-W-N) and "ray" ("Ray-Ray-Ray, Rah-Rah-Rah!") cheers. One which survived became a lasting tradition, known as the "Hoya" yell:
"Hoya, Hoya Saxa!
Hoya, Hoya Georgetown!
Hoya, Team! Team! Team!"
The yell was once said to be reserved for lettermen of the University and those "who had won their letter in life." National and foreign dignitaries were often given a rousing "Hoya!" when visiting the campus. One notable story was the arrival of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, to Georgetown in 1936. Awarded an honorary degree, His Eminence was startled (but later amused) to hear the dignified ceremony conclude with a rousing cry from the students in attendance: "Hoya, Hoya Saxa! Hoya, Hoya Georgetown! Hoya, Pacelli! Pacelli! Pacelli!"
Today, a shorter version is often heard at sporting events, with one group of fans starting the volley yelling "Hoya!" and another group returning a "Saxa!" and so forth, growing louder after every yell. Other contemporary cheers include the Spellout ("H...O...Y...A ...S.. Hoyas!"), "Let's Go Hoyas!" and "We Are Georgetown!", the latter of which is usually reserved for the end of each game.