Rogers, Over and Out
By Tim Rogers
Unlike Ohio, Nationwide there is no shortage of unique HS nicknames
Much of the talk around Stark County these days deals with the proposed merger of Canton’s only two public high schools, McKinley and Timken.
As you can imagine these are not popular discussions. More like arguments. The locals bicker over what the name of the school should be, the colors, the fight song and, of course, the nickname.
A friend of mine, with no horse in the race, said they should just call it Canton High and be done with it. Another suggested it should be called Hall of Fame High because Canton calls itself the Hall of Fame City, you know, because of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
An old-time McKinley grad said Timken was the younger of the two so it had to go, just as the city ditched Lehman and Lincoln years ago without as much as a peep. A Timken grad said his school should be saved because of the support it receives from the Timken Company.
“I don’t see Ida McKinley giving up any money,” he said. Well, poor Ida, the wife of the country’s 25th president, has been dead for more than 100 years.
And then there is the nickname. That might be the biggest fight of all. The McKinley Bulldogs, supporters claim, are known nation-wide. The Timken Trojans? Eh, not so much.
I have yet to hear a fitting answer. That does not surprise me. History suggests Ohio traditionally has had a hard time coming up with catchy, applicable nicknames for its high school athletic teams.
Confessions of a logo/nickname snob . . .
The top five nicknames in Ohio high school athletics are:
1. Barberton Magics
2. Cincinnati Oyler Madhatters
3. Cleveland Glenville Tarblooders
4. Akron Buchtel Griffins
5. Old Fort Stockaders
HONORABLE MENTION: Fremont Ross Little Giants, Beachwood Fuchs Mizrachi Mayhem.
The rest — all the Tigers and Panthers and Eagles and Wildcats — are just window dressing.
In all honesty, Ohio lacks in classic nicknames. Sort of middle-of-the-road when compared nation-wide. But, while our state education forefathers lacked imagination and frequently erred on the side of conservatism, they certainly weren’t the worst when it came to handing out monikers.
I mean, what were the head honchos in Thermal, California thinking when they christened the teams from Coachella Valley High as the Arabs?
The same question could be asked of those who named the Yuma (Arizona) High Criminals, the Freeburg (Illinois) High Midgets, the Fredonia (New York) High Hillbillies, the Vineland (New Jersey) High Fighting Clan and the Mt. Pleasant High (West Virginia) Big Blacks.
At least the decision-makers at Pekin High (Illinois) came to their senses years ago. Their teams are called the Dragons. Drastically more politically correct (not to say decent) than the old name. From the 1930s until 1980 Pekin teams were known as the Chinks in tribute to the town’s Chinese heritage.
Not everyone can be as spontaneous – not to mention original – as the folks in Poca, West Virginia. Could their teams be named anything other than the Dots? Now, that’s classic.
Some people felt it necessary to invoke some ferociousness into their chosen names, you know, hoping to instill fear in their opponents. No one did it better than the people from a small town in Michigan. Their teams are known as the Bad Axe Hatchets. You can look it up.
Somehow I feel sorry for the kids who play for the Hoopeston (Illinois) Cornjerkers, the Tillamook (Oregon) Cheesemakers, the Cobden (Illinois) Appleknockers, the Blooming Prairie (Minnesota) Awesome Blossoms, the Teutopolis (Illinois) Wooden Shoes, the Camas (Washington) Papermakers and the Cairo (Georgia) Syrupmakers.
You think I’m making this stuff up?
Don’t even ask about the Mount Clemens (Michigan) Battling Bathers or the Watersmeet (Michigan) Nimrods.
Do you think the Frankfort (Indiana) Hot Dogs catch a little grief? Probably not as much as if they were known as the Weenies.
How about the Earwigs from Dunn High in Los Olivos, California?
You have to cut the Hereford (Texas) athletes some slack. They are known as the Whitefaces. Don’t call the NAACP. A Whiteface is a breed of bull raised in the area.
Speaking of animals, I wonder how they came up with the Lava Bears, of Bend, Oregon. Or the Winged Beavers of Avon Old Farms, Connecticut.
Hooker High in Hooker, Oklahoma produces some candid bumper stickers. “Proud Hooker Mom” they read.
Some nicknames are so much a part of the school’s location that you have to be a native to understand. The athletes from Punahou High in Hawaii are known as the Buffanblu. I bet not many mainland Americans get that one. I guess it only figures. I mean, that’s the school that gave us President Barack Obama.