When most people hear the nickname Pilots, the initial image that comes to mind is that of airplane pilots. On the campus of LSU Shreveport, that is not the case. The athletic teams are actually riverboat pilots. The student body at LSU Shreveport chose the Pilots as the official school mascot to honor the history of the city of Shreveport. When selecting the nickname, thought was given to the community's ties to Barksdale Air Force Base, but ultimately the riverboat pilot became the mascot of choice.
The riverboat pilot as a mascot is significant because of the importance of the Red River to the city of Shreveport. In the early 1800's, a logjam of deadwood formed on the Red River. This logjam would eventually span 150 miles along the river and became known as the Great Raft. The heaviest area of concentration of deadwood was located near present day Shreveport. In 1832, Henry Miller Shreve was given the daunting task of clearing the logjam. By 1838, the Great Raft had been cleared by Shreve, thus opening the Red River for trade. The Shreve Town Company was formed in 1836 and set out to name the city in honor of Shreve for his efforts in clearing the Great Raft.