People who know me well, know I get bored very quickly. And while I appreciate the local and regional mascots and team nicknames like "Bucky Badger," the "Brew Crew," "Bango," the Rhinelander "Hodags" and the ineffable Hurley "Midgets," nothing stirs my cocoa and my curiosity, more than a name like the "Banana Slugs" from the University of California – Santa Cruz, or even better, the Macon "Whoopee" from Macon, Ga.
Two mascots and team names that are anything but boring. If there is a better nickname for a sports team than the Macon "Whoopee" I have yet to hear it. So what if it's the name of the now defunct Macon Whoopee minor league hockey team from the East Coast Hockey League? This team had a nickname strong enough to carry the entire league on it's whoopee-making shoulders.
And what about the "Banana Slugs?" In 1980, when the University of Santa Cruz decided to get into the NCAA game, they concurred that the school's mascot would simply be a sea lion. Students however, had grown attached to the colorful slugs that populate the redwoods on campus, and adopted them as an unofficial mascot.
But when the university announced their sea lion decision, students protested and rallied to lobby for the Ariolimax Columbianus. The students won, as they should, and "Sammy the Banana Slug" has been one of the most recognizable college mascots ever since.
A mascot, by definition, is "a person, animal, or object believed to bring good luck, especially one kept as the symbol of an organization such as a sports team."
Something like "The Racing Sausages" at Miller Park perhaps? Here in Wisconsin, we have some real show-stoppers of our own. I can only imagine, after hours of "school-bored" debate, as I like to spell it, it was clearly time to just burn the script and accept some of the following high school team names.
There's the Ashland "Oredockers" and the Butternut "Mighty Midgets," as opposed to what, just the regular "Midgets" from Hurley? There are also the Clintonville "Truckers," the Cuba City "Cubans," the DeForest "Norskies," the Elk Mound "Mounders," the Horicon "Marshmen," the Kaukauna "Galloping Ghosts" and the very intimidating Kimberly "Papermakers." There are also the Mellen "Granite Diggers," the Mineral Point "Pointers," the lovable Monroe "Cheesemakers," the Platteville "Hillmen" and the Homestead "Highlanders."
Other states have stepped up too. Consider for example the "Fighting Pickles" from the venerable University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Nothing says good artwork like fighting pickles. Or how about the "Cobbers" from Minnesota? What's a Cobber? It's short for "corncobbers," the mascot for Concordia College. They get the name from the cornfields that surround the college. And of course the college mascot's full name is "Kernel the Cobber."
Then there are the "Mule Riders" from Southern Arkansas. And from West Virginia, the Poca High School "Dots." And from Illinois, the Polo Community High School "Marcos." From Indiana, the Frankfort High School "Hot Dogs."
Lastly, I know a lot of local high school boys that can recite almost every line of the movie "Anchorman," and rightly so. If any of them ever ask me about where they should go to college, I'm quick to suggest that they go to Rhode Island College, home of none other than the "Anchormen." Yep. Are you picturing a mascot that looks similar to Ron Burgundy? It turns out by "Anchormen," they mean "sailors." Where did that come from?
One of the nicknames for the state of Rhode Island is the "Ocean State," so it makes sense when you think about it. But I think most fans of the film would prefer to imagine a mascot running around the basketball court in a burgundy colored suit, with big hair, a very bad mustache, wielding a goofy microphone, running up to the cheerleaders and saying, "The only way to bag a classy lady is to give her two tickets to the gun show ..."
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by John Leaf
Published Dec. 17, 2011
Here at the end of 2011, it's time to wrap up the nickname blog.
Published Dec. 10, 2011
Boy's high school hockey in Wisconsin is well underway, and the players are already putting the biscuit in the basket, and lighting the lamp. They may are also developing some nicknames, not unlike some of those that have come from the NHL.
Published Dec. 4, 2011
Does the new Big 10 Championship football game need an ongoing nickname? I think so.
Published Nov. 26, 2011
In these economically challenging times, have you ever thought about robbing a bank?
Published Nov. 19, 2011
For most of my adult life, I've had great admiration for the American Indian, and I still do a lot of reading about them. Turns out, Native Americans had a lot of nicknames, too.
Published Nov. 12, 2011
NASCAR is packed with nicknames. Here are some that might rev your engine. Or something like that.
Published Nov. 5, 2011
Ever think about the possibility of nicknames in other countries and cultures? Probably not. But only a myopic dingbat would think that there is something uniquely American about nicknames.
Published Oct. 29, 2011
Hollywood's expression of the local fire house and nicknames came to us 20 years ago, with the movie Backdraft. Nicknames were a point of connection in that movie.
Published Oct. 15, 2011
Do you and your honey have a nickname for one another? These couples certainly do.
Published Oct. 8, 2011
If you ever have the chance to meet Greg Koch in person, do it, but don't be shy. He has the personality and talent to sell both the sizzle and the steak. And his nickname is "The Gristleman."