Ever since I wrote the article on "What Is A Wahoo", I have been giving some thought to why schools have the nicknames they do. There are some very fascinating nicknames of schools, some of which defy explanation unless, of course, you happen to have attended the school in question, in which case you may know the origin of the nickname.
My research has discovered a contest was held recently where representatives of the educational and athletic establishments attempted to rate the 10 best college nicknames in the country. It is not clear what criteria were used but the results are interesting.
The top 10 in the ratings were:
1. Banana Slugs- U. Cal., Santa Cruz
2. Stormy Petrels- Oglethorpe Univ.
3.Wonderboys- Arkansas Tech
4. Ant Eaters- U. Cal., Irvine
5.Northern Lights- Northern Montana
6. Geoducks- Evergreen State
7. Mastodons-Ind. U/Perdue, Fort Wayne
10. Railsplitters- Lincoln Memorial
There are some other nicknames which didn't make the top ten that warrant mentioning. My favorites are:
Meredith- Angels (no comment)
N.C. Wesleyan- Fighting Bishops
Long Island U. Brooklyn- Blackbirds
Haverford (baseball only) Black Squirrels
Illinois College- Blue Boys
Delaware- Blue Hens
U.of Arkansas Monticello- Boll Weavils
Campbell- Camels ( rated no. 20)
Recently the nickname of the high school team in Frisco, Texas dropped the nickname "coon" because of racial sensitivities. I remember when I was in high school in the late forties, there was a Charles L. Coon" high school in Wilson. I don't know if they changed the name of the school or not since this was not a mascot name but the name of the person for whom the school was named. Several years ago, Scholastic America on ESPN picked the top 3 high school nicknames in the country and I was proud that 2 of the 3 were in Virginia. One was the Hampton "Crabbers" and the other was the "Flying Flucos" of Fluvanna Country.
One last bit of information. There are 8 schools with the nickname "Blue Devils." There are 17 schools with the nickname "Cardinals" but only 1 with the nickname "Cardinal" singular. That school is Stanford which has a tree for its mascot.
Now that I have gotten into this subject, I may write more later.