Anybody can come up with a simple name for a sports team. God knows there are enough Tigers and Lions and Eagles and such to fill a stadium. But, it takes real creativity and bravery to come up with a totally unique nickname for a school. In Texas, where high school football is only slightly less important than church or Whataburger, it makes sense that care and consideration are put into the names of school mascots across the great expanse of the Lone Star state.
Unfortunately, there are times when not quite enough vetting is done with a name. Had those who were on the committee to come up with the greatest high school mascot name ever done their homework, perhaps they might have gone a different direction. But, since they didn't, the best thing we can do for them -- besides offering condolences -- is give them some awards for their efforts.
Worst Shortening of a Mascot Name: Winner: Amarillo Golden Sandies, Grapeland Sandies (tie)
According to furious Internet research, "Sandies" is the short form of "Sand Storms." While Sandies may be shorter (unless you attach "Golden" to the beginning), it doesn't exactly convey the same gravitas as Sand Storm. In fact, you wouldn't even need a plural version of the name. How terrifying would it be to have to face a freaking Sand Storm coming at you on a kickoff? And while I'm at it, why shorten it to Sandies and not "Storms"? One sounds like weather that wants you dead. The other sounds like cookies my grandmother made every Christmas.
Mascot Most Likely to be Mistaken for an Old School Country Band: Winner: Roscoe Plowboys Runner up: Robstown Cotton Pickers
Truthfully, if I saw that the Roscoe Plowboys were playing at a local watering hole, I'd strap on a pair of ropers and two step my Wranger jeans-wearing self right down to the bar. If I saw that team on my schedule, after I stopped laughing, I'd start working on mocking chants involving tractors. Side note: What do they call the women's teams? The Plowgals? Maybe it's the city slicker in me, but that doesn't sound very ladylike. Second side note: Their logo is a letter R pushing a plow.
Most Complicated Pronunciation: Winner: Nazareth Swifts
It is literally impossible to pronounce this name correctly without a lisp. How are cheerleaders supposed to cheer for this name? And how is an announcer going to call a game? Just pray to God they never have someone on a team named Smith. All hell would break loose. I'm pretty sure if Ruth's Chris Steakhouse ever decided to sponsor them, a wormhole would open up inside the stadium and swallow humanity.
Most Likely to Be Misunderstood: Winner: Hereford Whitefaces
Anyone who knows anything about cows understands that a hereford is a type of cow in addition to being the unfortunate name of this panhandle town, and a whiteface is a literal description of said cow. But, something tells me not everyone is familiar with the ins and outs of bovine species. My guess is that many people who read the word "Whitefaces" might get the wrong idea. Nevermind the fact that your mascot is a sweet, white-faced cow. Not a badass bull that will gore you to death for looking at him sideways, but a cow.
Most Violently Descriptive Mascot: Winner: Mason Punchers
From a pure terror standpoint, this name is badass. The name is literally what these guys will do to you once you get on the field. It's the equivalent of the Maulers or the Brawlers. And it would get my seal of approval were it no so specific. Maul and brawl all you like, but punch? There's no crying in baseball and there's no punching in...well anything except boxing and MMA.
Mascot Name that Too Closely Resembles the Town Name: Winner: Crane Golden Cranes Runners up: Farmersville Farmers, Muleshoe Mules
This sort of thing always perplexes me. I get that it's sort of cute to make your name similar to your town, but the Crane Golden Cranes is taking that way too far. I imagine that someone suggested the Cranes as the nickname in a committee meeting only to be reasoned with by an objector. "But the Crane Cranes sounds ridiculous!" he would implore, when another interested party chimed in, "But what if they were the Golden Cranes?" All in favor? "AYE!"
Worst Attempt at Making an Innocuous Mascot Sound More Menacing: Winner: Cuero Gobblers
Very few of us ever see a turkey in the wild, feather aflame as it chases you away from its nest. So for the vast majority of Texans, the most dangerous thing about a turkey is that it might make you so sleepy on Thanksgiving that you nod off during the Cowboy game. And I'm sure these folks meant well, trying to increase the scare factor by turning a common poultry item into a fearsome gobbling carnivore. They even made the logo an Incredible Hulk-like turkey creature. They aren't fooling anyone. Weirdest Alliteration: Winner: Hutto Hippos
Setting aside for the moment how rival schools refer to the young ladies of Hutto High School, better known as (and I'm not making this up) "the Hustlin' Hippos," why would anyone think an enormously fat water animal would make a good mascot name? Yes, hippos in the wild are extremely dangerous. Hippos as a team just sounds like a bunch of fat kids squeezed into lycra uniforms. As if that weren't bad enough, there's statue of one of the fattest hippos in the history of hippos outside the school. Even other hippos that see it are like, "Dude, we're fat and all, but damn."
Worst Unintentional Euphemism: Winner: Groesbeck Goats
A polite note to the people of Groesbeck: Maybe you were simply unaware that the opposite of a hero in the sports world is a "goat." If not, please take that into account at your next school board meeting and consider going with some other form of livestock for your name. Perhaps an emu or a lamb. Either would be preferable and certainly more intimidating. Also, maybe take the giant word "goats" out of your logo. Just a thought.
Mascot Ideally Suited for Debate Club: Winner: Munday Moguls
If the only "team" your school happens to trot out is the debate club or chess club or science club, then the Moguls are perfectly acceptable. Hell, if there was such a thing as the Young Entrepreneurs Club and they had epic battles with rival schools over budgets and inventory control, you have a name, my friend. But the monocle-wearing vibe that comes with Mogul doesn't exactly translate to the gridiron. I can hear the cheers now, "Tally ho, gents. Let us depreciate those dastardly ruffians toot sweet!"
High School Trying Hardest to Keep Up With Pop Culture: Winner: Moulton Bobkatz
For realz, playa! In the '80s, every metal band did whatever they could to work the letters Z and X into their names. Hip-hop has, to a lesser degree, borrowed a page from that playbook. Now, Moulton has decided it will work for their team. But that wasn't enough for them. Oh, no. They had to go and misspell the name even more by replacing the "c" with a "k". Yes, Bobkatz! Why do I get the sense the English teachers at the school had a coronary when this name was chosen?
Dandiest Mascot Name: Winner: Hamlin Pied Pipers
Nothing says friendly like a man in leotards happily playing a flute melody so intoxicating that rodents are powerless not to follow him. It makes for a charming story or a line in a famous Christmas song. It does NOT, however, give your team an edge on the fields of battle unless they are fighting mice and the fields of battle are the red-bricked streets of jolly old London town.
Worst Mascot Named After Something Dead: Winner: Kerrville Tivy Antlers
This name makes me wonder if there is something I don't know. Do people use antlers from great horned beasts as weapons in central Texas? Because, if they don't, I have no answer as to why a set of antlers would make a good mascot. Sure, whatever they were attached to prior to it being killed, no doubt by a powerful semi-automatic weapon by an open carry enthusiast, would make a great name. But just the antlers?
Weirdest Choice of Non-Native Animal Mascot: Winner: Trent Gorillas Runner up: Grandview Zebras
In many ways -- especially thanks to the movie industry -- gorillas make for a powerful and frightening opponent. But Trent ain't the Congo. It's just a little town west of Amarillo. I'll be the first to admit that damn logo is scary as hell. I'll probably have nightmares imagining that fang-toothed face coming at my head. Even so, best to stick with animals from your own hemisphere. And the runner up sounds like a mascot for referees rather than a team.
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Name Most Likely Conceived by Local Chamber of Commerce: Winner: Brazosport Exporters
I imagine a room of men puffing on cigars discussing the fate of their local high school name. They want something that is tough, proud and descriptive of their town. Even better, they want something that will let any visitor know just who they are. And if the team mascot helps business along the way, that's just gravy. I'm surprised the logo wasn't just a big dollar sign or a guy in a tuxedo smoking a cigar. If I had one wish it would be that the Lord move the hearts of a rival school within their district to change their mascot name to Importers as soon as possible. Amen.
Best/Worst Mascot in Texas: Winner: New Braunfels Unicorns
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, rivals the moral dilemma that arises from this nickname. On one hand, it is perhaps one of the most insane mascot names for a school ever invented. On the other, it is beyond brilliant. What can you say to a school that purposefully names themselves the Unicorns? Not a god damn thing. All you can do is shake their hands and hope one day you too can be this awesome. Slow clap, New Brunfels Unicorns, slow clap.