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Some mascot names are a bit dull

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We really should be ashamed of ourselves for having such dull high school mascot nicknames.

Just look around. We've got Beaverton Beavers, Tigard Tigers, Lake Oswego Lakers and West Linn Lions.

Come on, people. With that level of creativity, it's a wonder we get anybody to the local ball games, let alone rallying enough spirit to actually get people yelling.

I've been doing some research into high school team names, and there are some really good ones out there.

Why, in Oklahoma alone you'll find schools with names like the Fighting Chicks, the Bulldoggers, the Plainsmen, the Ironheads, Ridgerunners, Haymakers, Wardogs, Bullfrogs, Roughers and Gorillas.

Oh, sure, Oregon's got Tillamook Cheese Makers, the North Medford Black Tornado and the Toledo Boomers (named for the mighty burrowing mountain boomer).

Unfortunately, we've got way more Lions and Tigers and Bears (oh my).

But a little time on the Internet is more than enough to introduce one to all sorts of cool school nicknames. And, fortunately for the rest of us, Tony Bowling, a teacher and coach at Tekonsha High in Michigan, has been compiling some of the greatest school nicknames for many years, and he has posted them at www.tekonsha.k12.mi.us/scaa/teammates.htm.

'My interest in team names goes way back to the mid-1960s when I was in high school here in Tekonsha,' Bowling explained in an e-mail last week. In 1966 he learned there was a team called the Trout Creek Anglers. 'I didn't do anything with it at the time other than store it in my memory, along with other names I heard of, like the Watersmeet Nimrods, the Goodrich Martians and the Mt. Clemens Battling Brothers.'

He especially liked the ones that matched their community name, like the Frankfurt Hot Dogs, the Burroughs Burros and the Ketchikan King Salmons.

'Over the years, I have heard from people all over the country, both to submit names and some, like yourself, who were doing a story on the topic,' he wrote. 'I am continually amazed that this little one-trick pony that I have here has gotten the attention it has.'

He's being modest, of course. Let's go to the list.

In Laurel Hill, Fla., for example, they root for the Hoboes. In Hoopeston, Ill., they're all about the Cornjerkers. And at Stuart High School in Albany, N.Y., they turn out to support the Thunder Chicken.

Cobden High in Illinois has the Appleknockers.

Think Midgets is a funny mascot? Well, they don't in Estherville, Iowa, Freeburg, Ill., or at Putnam County High in Unionville, Mo.

In Cleveland, Ohio, there are high schools nicknamed the Executives and the Lawyers. And a school in Falmouth, Maine, goes by the Yachtsmen.

La-de-frickin'-da, huh?

Got a yen for animals a little more unusual than lions and tigers? How about the Fighting Sand Crabs of Tivy High in Kerrville, Texas?

Not weird enough? Then try on the Winged Beavers (of Avon, Conn.) for size. Or maybe the Fighting Zebras of Lincoln, Calif., the Springtown Fighting Porcupines (Texas) or the Madeira Snails (Virginia).

Mascots on the list that some of us might consider too cute to be taken seriously include Koalas, Pandas, Bunnies, Chipmunks, Penguins, Squirrels and Pugs. I also question the fearsomeness of putting Awesome Blossoms or Daisies on your team uniform - even if you are on a girls team.

Lots of high school names are clearly inspired by prevalent occupations in the community. We know about that here because we've got Paper Makers in Camas and the forementioned Cheese Makers.

But elsewhere around the country you'll find there are Hay Balers, Beetdiggers, Atom Smashers, Boilermakers, Muleskinners, Fighting Farmers, Crabbers, Whalers, Fishermen, Technicians, Sheep Herders, Sugar Beeters, Corn Huskers, Truckers, Grape Pickers, Canners, Irrigators, Ranchers and Cotton Pickers.

But it's time now for my real favorites.

Who in Arizona could not get up for the big game if they played for the Yuma High Criminals?

Almost as inspiring would be the Morrilton, Ark., uniform bearing the likeness of a Devil Dog.

The Earwigs of Dunn H.S. in Los Olivos, Calif., have to strike fear in their opponents - just because of their creepy nickname.

Other really intimidating ones are the River Rats of Huron High in Ann Arbor, Mich., the Merrill Vandals (also in Michigan) and the Galloping Ghosts of Kaukana, Wis.

These are good, scary names that any football player or rally squad member would be proud to wear on their helmet or back.

Of course, if I ever get to Wisconsin, I will simply have to get to a ball game to watch the Laona Fighting Kellys.

Former editor of the Lake Oswego Review and former managing editor of the Beaverton Valley Times and The Times, serving Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood, Mikel Kelly handles special sections for Community Newspapers and contributes a regular column.