Monday, July 11, 2005

What's In A School's Nickname?

With all the mounting pressures for schools having politically incorrect mascots or nicknames to change their monikers, here is some sound practical advice from the San Jose Mercury News:
Looking for a new nickname? The most unusual school nicknames are the indigenous ones, related to the history, geography or main industry in the area where a school is located.

The best college nicknames are examples of that, such as the Cornhuskers, Boilermakers and Tar Heels.

High schools offer the most abundance and variety of such nicknames.

In Florida there are the Conchs of Key West, the Spongers of Tarpon Springs, the Astronauts of Titusville (near Cape Canaveral) and the Sandcrabs of Daytona Seabreeze.

Just as Tarpon Springs honored the workers who helped create that town, Brush High in Colorado decided on the Beetdiggers. Iowa has the Cattlefeeders of Everly, Wisconsin the Oredockers in Ashland and Georgia the Syrupmakers of Cairo. The Smelterites are in Murray, Utah, and the Cotton Pickers play for Robstown, Texas.

Some went for ethnic heritage that causes pause, as the Hillbillies of Ozark High in Arkansas, where the mascot is indeed the stereotypical hillbilly, with overalls, beard and shotgun.

A lot of schools got inspiration from the person for whom the school was named, such as the Inventors of Thomas Edison High in New York and the Jurists of John Marshall High, also in New York.

Then there are the Electrons of Benjamin Franklin High in Philadelphia.

And some play off the name of the town, such as the Mars (Pa.) Planets, the Frankfort (Ind.) Hot Dogs, the Hatchets of Tomahawk, Wis., and the Whitefaces of Hereford, Texas. And, in a bit of a stretch but innovative nonetheless, there are the Marcos of Polo, Ill.

Then there are the Main Streeters of Sauk Centre, Minn. Sinclair Lewis was the first American author to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. He was born in Sauk Centre in 1885, and used the town as the location for his most famous book, Main Street.

But the school that combines industry and geography in the most inventive way is Vintage High in California. Located in wine-rich Napa Valley, the Crushers of Vintage have school colors of Burgundy and Chablis.
And we can't forget to include the Annandale High School Atoms.

Extra Credit: Would you believe that there is a website owned by a gentleman who is devoted to the collecting of unusual high school nicknames?
Believe it!
View the latest edition of the Carnival of Education (as well as entry instructions) right here.

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