Norman: Team mascots come in all shapes, sizes and names
For some reason, I’ve always been intrigued by the names of various team mascots and wondered how and why they came to be what they’re called. Especially high schools in Texas. And because I grew up in West Texas and loved sports, it was just natural to be curious about such things.
Early on in life when I attended football games with my folks in Odessa, I came to realize that overall, the team name was most always intended to be a symbol of strength, power, and pride for one’s school or town. Moreover, this mascot was usually meant to be one that would intimidate or strike fear in the hearts of opposing teams.
I get it. I wouldn’t want to unexpectedly stumble upon a menacing Navasota Rattler, a wild Itasca Wampus Cat, a wily Dilley Wolf, or prowling Monahans Lobo, would you? Me neither.
Then there’s the names of various school teams that are indigenously tied in with area they represent. For example, you’ve got your Ulvalde Coyotes, Hereford Whitefaces, Forney Jackrabbits, Pampa Harvesters or Amarillo Sandies (one of the dustiest/windiest cities in the country). Good stuff, that is.
Of course, for some reason, there’s also those schools that take just the opposite approach and I like that too… you gonna find a wandering Elk in Burleson or a stray Zebra grazing around Grandview somewhere? How about a Porcupine in Springtown? Good luck on that. One of my favorites is the Austin Achieve Polar Bears. Go figure.
One more — let’s not forget the Winters Blizzards!? Now that’s being creative. (Why aren’t their school colors all white? They’re not… blue is the main color. And “No,” you don’t get a discount at the DQ just because you are from there.
Many schools use alliteration in their mascot names to correspond with the town where they represent — like the Muleshoe Mules, the Crane Golden Cranes, the Groesbeck Goats, the Breckenridege Buckaroos, the Bishop Badgers, the Munday Moguls, the Kress Kangaroos, the Lorena Leopards, and on and on.
My favorite — the Van Vandals. Best watch your back and not mess with them Vandals when visiting their fair city. I guess with names like those, it’s easier for sports broadcasters to get the words out in the moment of excitement when they can alliterate. It just flows more naturally.
Some towns/districts just seem to purposely come up with names that would not be especially intimidating, but would be unique or be fun in a corny kind of way. They knew nobody else would pick them. Take for instance: the Robstown Cotton Pickers, the Bishop Lynch Friars, the Hamlin Pied Pipers, or even the Lee Ganders — wonder if the Lee gals’ teams go by “Ganderettes?”
Now the Highland Park (a suburb of Dallas) teams are known as The Scots. That doesn’t exactly exude trepidation in you, does it? But, hey, my ancestors were part Scotch-Irish, so I’m good with it. I will say for sure I hope if Highland Park has male cheerleaders, they don’t prance around the sideline in kilts while leading cheers… not a pretty sight if you know what I mean… just saying.
Another one of my favorites is the Mesquite “Skeeters” name… definitely indigenous. I wonder if opposing teams’ fans carry cans of repellant and spray it in the air/stands every time their team scores?
In closing, I remember back in my college day at Texas Tech having a discussion with some of my dormmates about the various West Texas towns where we all came from, and our mascots, etc. I proudly proclaimed I was an Odessa Broncho — a symbol of strength, speed, and power.
Then this one fella popped up, boasting, “Not my school. We were the Olton Oysters and mighty proud of it, too. When our team ran out of the field, we’d all stand up, and with castanets in hand, we’d snap our fingers together, and cheer in unison ‘Snap’em Oysters, Snap’em!’”
I could just see it. So original, so funny! So high schoolish! And so intimidating. Not! For years I believed him. Then I discovered they actually call themselves the Mustangs. Oh well, it still makes for a good story.
Charlie Norman has lived in Somervell County since 1994. He and his wife have two adult children, who graduated from Glen Rose schools. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.