Friday, February 17, 2006

Miles of Mascots

Wolf Mascot
Originally uploaded by mdt1960.
What mascot name would you expect the football team from Whitefish, Montana to own? It’s a tough one. The Fish? No, that would be redundant. The Whitefish Bottom Feeders… Naaaah! How about the Anglers? That might work even if it sounds like a fish that fishes for itself. Perhaps not masculine enough for a sport like football, but I’ve heard of worse. Of all the possibilities, the “Bulldogs” probably wouldn’t be anyone’s choice—even if it is one of the most popular mascot names, rooted in America’s first professional football team—the Canton Bulldogs.

Admittedly I hadn’t lost any sleep over my curiosity of the Whitefish football team mascot prior to their contest with the Anaconda Copperheads (yet another team name and mascot worthy of lively discussion), but it had crossed my mind somewhere in that 300-mile stretch between home and Anaconda. Perhaps somewhere around Three Forks, Montana I expected the clouds of my ignorance to part with a beam of sun that had the sensible name of the Whitefish mascot written on it. So imagine my dumbfounded response upon hearing they were the Bulldogs. I mean, what’s the connection between a whitefish and a bulldog?

Sad, but true, mascot names have kept me going on more than one occasion over the remote and uninteresting stretches of highway as I passed from one small town high school football game to another.

So, here’s the rundown on high school mascots in Wyoming and Montana.

• Some mascots are popular, all too predictable for this region of the country, and don’t linger long in my mind—names like Wranglers, Broncs, Warriors, Longhorns, Panthers and Eagles abound. There are at least five “Warrior” teams in Montana alone. However, it’s worth noting that some of these Warriors teams have rosters loaded with Native American players. Warriors from Heart Butte, Plenty Coups, Brockton and Wyoming Indian all are from or near a reservation.

• I’m always captivated by those mascot names that link the school to this region, but do so with an unpredictable flair. The Chinook Sugarbeeters and Sunburst Refiners come to mind. Then there are mascots that link the team to a region but not with the same glamour or sense of masculinity as in the Forsyth Dogies or the Augusta Elks.

• When it comes to conveying a sense of masculinity, those teams that hail from a town or area that has a feminine ring to it must be certain to align themselves with a mascot that is unquestionably masculine as in the Geraldine Tigers or the Laurel Locomotives. Imagine if Geraldine were to take on the same mascot name as, say, Bridger—the Scouts. No one would be surprised to hear of Geraldine’s rivals referring to them as the “girl scouts.”

• And then there are those schools and mascot names that rival peanut butter and jelly. You know the folks in Belfry, Montana were bent on getting it right when they gave Belfry High School the Bats as their mascot. And what of the Joliet J-Hawks? No, it’s not “Jayhawks,” but “J-Hawks” where the “J” stands for Joliet! It may be redundant to refer to them as the “Joliet J-Hawks,” but it certainly has a nice ring to it.

Which brings me back to the Anaconda Copperheads. At first that seems like a natural—with all the copper extracted from that part of Montana. However, those who don’t know might ask, “Which is it, an Anaconda snake or a Copperhead snake?” Maybe the good folks in Anaconda were too caught up in the whole snake thing way back when. Perhaps they should have just gone for the “Copper Kings.”


Anonymous said...

The term Anaconda was actually borrowed from a civil war 'blurb' by Abraham Lincoln, then Scott, McClellan (sp) and then Sherman to squeeze the south. Copperheads is like you say an obvious tribute to the tremendous amount of copper that lead this country and the world through the electrical revolution....into the technological present. Anacondas squeeze constrict, copperheads have a nasty bite.....

Morgan said...

John... thanks for filling in the juicy details which always make it even more colourful. Are you from the Anaconda-Butte area or are you a mining professional?