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 ..."
John Leaf was born in western Illinois, a mile east of the Mississippi. College in Chicago. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Leaf was goalie on the soccer team and captain of the golf team in college. He cut class to ride the "L" to see Cubs games, hung out for hours at the Art Institute and bent the brain doing graduate school in Theology.
He spent three mind-blowing summers in coastal British Columbia, as a resort photographer. He worked and lived in Minneapolis. He did hard time at a bank on LaSalle Street in Chicago and learned about PR, working at big firm a block off Michigan Avenue, while living in Evanston.
Now Leaf is just living the dream, under the radar, in Cedarburg. He's passionate about nicknames and launched his website three years ago.
He dabbles in yoga and cycling. Fishtailing as always, and taking a whack at life, like everyone else.