Odd high school team names

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One of my favorite little Hoosier oddities has always been the unusual names given to some of the high school teams here. Certainly I've see the usual Panthers and Warriors (over thirty combined, I'll bet) over my almost thirty years of officiating basketball here. We have some other more uncommon ones as well. Here in Indiana, we have everything from the Vincennes Alices to the Rochester Zebras (at least there when the fans yell "Zebras" they're not talking about the officials). ;o)

We have mascots you can throw. Take the Hobart Brickies, Rockville Rox or even the Shoals Jug Rox (I was afraid to ask). I always thought the Gary Mann Horsemen were a good match with the Pendleton Heights Arabians. If they're having an off year it can be said it's easy pickings playing the Logansport Berries. Or, the Madison-Grant Argylls need to pull thier sox up to salvage this season. Bad puns, I know. Well, I can always mention the Martinsville Artesians. ;o)

We have teams you haven't seen in years, like the Benton Central Bison. Going back in time even further, we have Columbus East Olympians, Crawfordsville Athenians and Delphi Oracles. Further back? How about the Mishawaka Cavemen?

There are teams named after crafts like the Noblesville Millers, Garrett Railroaders and Laporte Slicers. We have schools I feel are naturals for consolidation, like the Greenwood Woodmen and Washington Hatchets. I think the Cloverdale Clovers and Westfield Shamrocks ought to get together, too.

Some of the names are kind of cute, like the Jimtown Jimmies, Rising Sun Shiners and Speedway Sparkplugs. Some are less so, like the Clay City Eminence Eels. I always liked the Anderson Highland Scots with their kilts and bagpipes. One school had two good name choices and chose not to choose. Hence we have the Plymouth Pilgrims/Rockies. Oldenburg Academy has one name but two ways to use it. The Twisters can either use a funnel cloud or Chubby Checker. ;o) I guess having a choice is better than making a bad one. I've always wondered about the New Harmony Rappites.

Some names were signs of the times when the schools opened. A couple from the sixties are the Indianapolis NW Space Pioneers and the South Central Satellites. Some take the same name but choose different spellings like the Daleville Broncos and Lafayetee Jefferson Bronchos (yes, either is acceptable).

Actually, here in the home state of Dan Quayle, spelling is given some latitude. Just look at the Kokomo Wildkats and Kankakee Valley Kougars. ;o)

I'm sure a lot of places like to use precious metals in their nicknames. Indiana is no different. We have two Golden Bears, two Golden Eagles, Golden Knights, Golden Falcons and Golden Arrows. Unlike a lot of places we have the River Forest Ingots!

As you can see, Indiana has some really interesting, cute and funny nicknames for their high school sports teams. I have to tell you all, though, that my all time favorite is still the Frankfort Hot Dogs. ;o)

-- Gary in Indiana (gk6854@aol.com), July 27, 2001


Gary-- A friend of mine who used to live in Salem,OH,said that the name of the Salem H.S. sports teams was the Fighting Quakers. Huh?

-- vicki in NW OH (thga76@aol.com), July 27, 2001.

Hi Gary, My Husband Dave was a Speedway Spark Plug back in the 60's! I thought that name was so funny when he first told me. We were just the Tigers. real common. Wabash, which is a nearby town, played Speedway for the State Baseball Champion in their division, this year. I was torn on who to root for, my niece is the scorekeeper for the Wabash team, so I rooted for them. You know, small towns are really neat, after Wabash won, the team got home late at night and it seemed like the whole town had lined the streets to cheer them. Small towns are still alive and well in the good old USA.

-- Annie (mistletoe@kconline.com), July 27, 2001.

I was a Blue Devil. Hmmmm - maybe he....errr heck really DID freeze over!!

-- Polly (tigger@moultrie.com), July 27, 2001.


If you want to see small town high school spirit on film, go rent 'Hoosiers' (with Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper, Barbara Hershey and, in a very, very brief segment, yours truly) and 'Remember the Titans' (with Denzel Washington, Will Patton and, since a college buddy didn't direct this one and part of it wasn't filmed just down the road here, not yours truly). ;o)

I certainly have a bias here, but believe Indiana had, for years, the greatest HS basketball tournament in the nation. 'Hoosiers', a story based on the Milan HS state champions exemplifies that. A tiny school against all odds winning it all. When I was in HS tiny Floyd Central HS from Floyds Knobs, Indiana was in the Final Four here and captured the hearts and minds of everyone. They didn't win it all, but everyone knew and loved the self-proclaimed "Super Hicks" from Floyd Central.

Sadly, four years ago that tournament ended here. The wave of political correctness finally came to Indiana and swept away our great tournament. Now we have four different class tournaments based on school enrollment. No one knows who won anything anymore. No one cares. Attendance and revenues are both down. Expenses to the schools are up. The argument was, of course, that this would be fairer to smaller schools and give more schools a chance to win, etc. No one asked the players.

My son played the last two years we had a true tournament here. In the current system his would have been a 2A school with 4A being the largest. Each of those years his team lost in the Regional Finals or Elite Eight, one game away from going to the Final Four. One might think this group, having been by far the smallest school to go that far each year, would have benefitted with the new format. In theory they were certainly the best school of their approximate size. Surely they would have wanted to be 2A State Champions.

In fact not one player either year would have traded what they accomplished against the absolute best competition for one of the tainted titles we have now. I know. I asked each player on each team. It's a shame some of the forces behind this change didn't.

-- Gary in Indiana (gk6854@aol.com), July 28, 2001.

I went to school in Venango County, Pennsylvania. The name of the school was Cranberry Area Schools. The sports teams were the Berries and the team mascot was a "Super Berry". Any one else out there from the home of the Super Berry?

-- Tammy (tlharriswv@cs.com), July 28, 2001.

My cousin in IL went to Pekin HS there in the sixties when they won their state basketball championship. Believe it or not, their mascot was a caricature of Chinese man with a huge tooth-filled smile, slanted eyes and a coolie hat. They were the Pekin Chinks! Needless to say the name and mascot were changed in the subsequent years to Bears, with a Panda as the mascot, I believe. ;o)

-- Gary in Indiana (gk6854@aol.com), July 29, 2001.

Columbia MO has the Hickman High Kewpies. Supposedly in the 20's a player got up from a play grinning like a Kewpie doll, the announcer called it, and the name stuck. Doesn't sound very tough to me.

-- marilyn (rainbow@ktis.net), July 29, 2001.

How about from a small town in central Fl. Plant City. The sports teams were called the Planters. From an even smaller town called Turkey Creek called themselves the Gobblers. I married one of them. Blessings Peggy

-- peggy (wclpc@cookeville.com), July 30, 2001.

Peggy, I married a "Sparkplug", but I think he's do for a recharging!

-- Annie (mistletoe@kconline.com), July 30, 2001.

As a former Pekin Chink, I'll clarify a couple of things in our defense. The mascot was a very cool looking chinese dragon, not a caricature. The nickname came about in the 30's when legend had it that the town got it's name because it was exactly halfway around the world from Peking, China. A differnet time and different tolerances. Not for me to judge good or bad. The nickname was changed by the school board in 1980 after a long and rancorous fight, including a vote by the student population in 1976 which was overwhelming in favor of keeping the old nickname. This was a vey big issue at the time, even making the national news. We had chinese- american groups come speak to us to try to convince us how awful this nickname was. Needless to say, pride and stubbornness won out in the short run, politacal correctness in the long run. The teams are now known as the Dragons and the same logo is used. Probably not a bad compromise, but I will always be a Pekin Chink.

-- ray s (mmoetc@yahoo.com), August 06, 2001.

I dated a former Freeport Pretzel while in college. Fischer, Il has the Bunnies. Cobden used to be the Appleknockers.

-- ray s (mmoetc@yahoo.com), August 06, 2001.


As I said, my cousin was there in the late sixties, I believe, when they won a state HS basketball title. I wasn't trying to denigrate the school or choice of mascot. Like you, I was trying to emphasize the unique nature of the nickname and way our perceptions have changed over the years.

-- Gary in Indiana (gk6854@aol.com), August 08, 2001.

Yuma HS (AZ) Criminals! Yuma was the site of the Arizona Territorial Prison before Arizona was granted statehood. They used to wear black and white striped uniforms (easily distinguished from oficials since their stripes went in different directions).

I also like odd names that fit perfectly the location...as in...

Carlsbad Cavemen (Carlsbad, NM) Perfect fit with the Caverns just down the highway.

Hereford Hostile Herd (Hereford, TX) This is a small Texas town with a feed lot and slaughterhouse (no wonder the herd is hostile). The mascot is great, a cow (bull?) with snot or smoke coming out its nose!

-- B. Robin (the_pg@hotmail.com), September 02, 2001.

A Sydney Netball Team: Dudes, where's my Llama?

-- Ed (fake@email.com), October 13, 2001.

I was a Crawfordsville Athenian and as I was a German exchange student never thought about the odd name- until today.

-- stefan (stefan@clickfish.com), November 26, 2001.

I just wanted to say that being a Rochester Zebra was great! Zebra's are fun, even if they are an odd name for a mascot!

-- Jen (jbright@olivet.edu), December 05, 2001.

The Pekin Chinks caricature someone referred to was probably someone's memory of the Chink Rink skating arena. The caricature they had on their sign was a big toothed chinese guy on skates.

No one ever believes me when I tell them that the Pekin Chinks existed before the name change to the Pekin Dragons.

-- Jeff (peno@sofnet.com), December 28, 2001.

The Teutopolis Wooden Shoes are actually something of a dynasty in Illinois Class A Ball. There is also the New Berlin Pretzels. The Atwood Hammon Rajahs. hmmm all I can think of now. The Cairo Pilots kinda strange...

-- Grant (GunthV73@hotmail.com), January 18, 2002.

The Watertown, Wisconsin High School team name is the "Goslings", or young geese!

-- Spence Stehno (spence@mpm.edu), January 29, 2002.

I am a senior at Shoals High School, in Shoals Indiana. The home of the Mighty Jug Rox. If anyone has ever been to Shoals, you would know the reason we are called the Jug Rox, is that on the west side of town there is a strange looking rock formation. It is in the shape of a jug. Hence, that is where we got our mascot name. There are no companies that make a costume in the shape of a jug rock, so our Art teacher combined chicken wire and paper mache to make a jug rock for a student to wear over his/her head. People make fun our mascot constantly, but we are proud of being so unique!!

-- Leslie New (leslie_new@hotmail.com), February 18, 2002.

The Progresso, Texas, high school nickname is "The Fighting Red Ants".

-- alan kushner (ankushner@cs.com), March 16, 2002.

In IL I like the Centralia Orphans, and especially their girls' teams, the Orphan Annies. As most anyone from there will be quick to tell you, Centralia HS is the state's all-time winningest boys basketball program :)

-- Jim in Illinois (pharaoh@metallica.com), March 17, 2002.

Gary- They actually changed it to the "Pekin Dragons". :)

-- Ryan (RFSoftballChick7@hotmail.com), July 21, 2002.

Let me add my alma mater... also in Illinois: The Effingham Flaming Hearts.

-- Mike A (andymh@excite.com), November 17, 2002.

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