Name game

According to USA Today, 1,223 high schools across the nation have the Eagle as their mascot. There’s two right in our backyard, of course — Windom Area and Southwest Christian.

But while it’s interesting knowing just how common the mascot “Eagles” is — and by the way, “Tigers” checks in at No. 2 with 876 schools — it’s far more intriguing to know some of the more unusual, colorful monikers for teams. And there are plenty of good ones, as can been now be seen by visiting http://contest.usatodayhss.com/mascot/state-map.

Thanks to a contest that kicked off Feb.25, readers can select their favorite team mascot names on a state-by-state basis. A total of 255 teams are on the list — five from each of the 50 U.S. states as well as the District of Columbia. Participants can vote for up to one team per state.
Aaron Hagen shared this with me Feb. 26, and it was fun trying to guess if schools I knew had intriguing mascot names made the list. Having lived in New York, Pennsylvania, North Dakota and Minnesota at different times — and, of course, being in pretty close proximity to Iowa — I had a little bit of knowledge to draw on.

North Dakota, I’ve always thought, has a wealth of great team nicknames, and some of my favorites are on the list. Grafton’s Spoilers made the cut; so did Kenmare’s Honkers. Somewhat disappointingly, New Salem’s Holsteins didn’t qualify.

When reviewing New York’s entries, I first inquired if Fredonia’s Hillbillies made the Empire State’s top five. Sure enough, it did — and I feel it would have been a grave injustice if it hadn’t. Another school on the N.Y. list was Warrensburg High School. The sports teams there were known as the Burgers when I grew up about 45 minutes south of there, but now the team mascot is apparently the Burghermeister (“realizing a burger wasn’t quite striking fear into opposing sports teams,” USA Today notes.

So what Minnesota and Iowa teams do voters get to choose from? Well, one Minnesota school was an easy one — the Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms. And I’ve always kind of dug the Jordan Hubmen, which is on the list. Meanwhile, Iowa is well represented by Sheldon’s Orabs, which according to the contest “was once named the worse mascot name ever by the Des Moines Register.” Also on the slate is the Estherville-Lincoln Central Midgets (but, strangely, the Dickinson, N.D., Midgets were excluded.)

The contest’s state round ended March 5, with the top 51 winners moving on to a round in which they will be divided into six regions. Each regional winner will then advance to a final round.

I’ll be looking forward to seeing the lists of finalists, as I’m sure they’ll bring cause for great debate in the newsroom. Even if they don’t win, though, I’ll always be a Hillbillies fan.

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