The Most Unusual College Mascots
Some colleges think outside the box when it comes to school spirit
Sports are central to campus life at many colleges and universities across the country. Students flood stadiums and arenas drenched in their school colors, chanting fight songs and cheers, and shouting words of encouragement to their schools athletes. Mascots serve as the ultimate cheerleaders and sports figures that are often an important part of a school’s identity. While some schools have more traditional mascots (tiger, bears, etc.), others showcase their creativity and school spirit with more unconventional representations.
Here are some non-traditional mascots at schools throughout the nation!
Banana Slugs of University of California – Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
UCSC’s original mascot until the 1980s was a sea lion. However, a student-led movement officially dubbed the banana slug as the school’s mighty mascot as they were hoping to avoid any intense competition and ferocity seen in other American athletic programs. Banana slugs are a shell-less mollusk commonly found in the redwood forest and, despite being an unintimidating creature, USCS students embrace the banana slug as their beloved character. The Banana Slug emblem depicts an intellectual slug, wearing spectacles and reading Plato.
University of California – Santa Cruz is a public university near California’s redwood forest and Monterey Bay. It is one of 10 universities in the California system, and while it
was founded with a liberal arts curriculum, it is now a research institution known for its progressive teaching and student political activism.
The Gorlock of Webster University, Webster Groves, Missouri
In 1984, Webster students participated in a contest led by the student newspaper, The Journal, to choose the new school mascot. Students were given the name “Gorlock” and had to design what this new mythical creature would look like. The winning sketch was a blue and yellow creature, with horn-like ears, a lion main, and cat face, holding a handheld pump spray. While the appearance of the Gorlock has progressed, its general features have remained the same and Webster still boasts a truly unique mascot.
Webster University’s main campus has nearly 5,000 undergraduate students and is located in a suburb of St. Louis, however, there are over 100 campuses worldwide. Originally an all-women’s Catholic college, Webster became coeducational in 1962 and was the first Catholic college in the United States to be completely under lay control.
Ichabod at Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas
Washburn’s mascot Ichabod holds great historical importance for the school. Ichabod Washburn was an early benefactor and namesake of Washburn University. Originally Lincoln College in Kansas, Washburn was drawn to the school’s dedication to abolitionism and helped revive the struggling college. In return, they renamed the school Washburn University in 1868 and students began referring to themselves as “Ichabods” well before there were even school athletics. In 1904, the “Sons of Ichabod” took the field, and Ichabod as a mascot has evolved ever since.
Washburn University opened its doors in 1865, and its first class included men, women, and African Americans making it more progressive than many other schools at the time. Today, this public university has over 5,600 undergraduate students and 200 academic programs.
Cobbers of Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota
The names “Cobbers” and its variations have been associated with Concordia students for over a hundred years. In 1893, Concordia students were dubbed “Corncobs” by other townspeople of Moorhead as a form of ridicule. It was not until 1928 that “Cobber” became another term for Concordia students, and in 1932, the school yearbook was renamed the Cobber solidifying the nickname. The mascot is a cornhusk, complete with a Concordia jersey, and fighting façade.
Concordia College is a small private college founded in 1891 by Norwegian settlers. Faculty at Concordia are expected to include a global perspective in their curricula, and students are required to take courses in health, communication, religion, and culture in their first year.
Stormy Petrels at Oglethorpe University, Atlanta, GA
Petey the Stormy Petrel became the official mascot of Oglethorpe in the early 20th century. Stormy petrels are small sea birds known to fly over the ocean waters scavenging for food. Legend has it that the Georgia colony founder James Oglethorpe was especially inspired by the small but cunning bird, so the university’s former President Thronwell Jacobs named it as the official mascot. Oglethorpe’s school motto translates from Latin to “He does not know how to give up” and its mascot fits this sentiment.
Oglethorpe is a private liberal arts college with 1,050 undergraduates located in suburban Atlanta. Originally located in Milledgeville, GA, the school was forced to close between 1862 and 1866 due to the Civil War, and reopened in its current location, now a national historic landmark. Oglethorpe is home to the Crypt of Civilization, the most complete and culturally accurate time capsule ever created. Sealed in 1940, it is schedule to reopen in the year 8113 A.D.
Battling Bishops of Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio
Prior to 1925, Ohio Wesleyan athletes were known simply as the “Red and Black” or the “Methodists”, after Ohio Wesleyan’s Methodist tradition. By 1925, the school felt that too many colleges had red and black as their colors, and there were 14 Methodist schools just in Ohio, so the journalism fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon conducted a contest for a new mascot. The winner was the Fighting Bishops, an ironic and humorous mascot for the Methodist school.
Ohio Wesleyan is a small liberal arts school that is part of the Five Colleges of Ohio (along with College of Wooster, Kenyon Colleg, Oberlin College, and Denison University). Founded on liberal and progressive principals in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan is known to have a highly inclusive student body of activists.
All of these schools celebrate their unique histories with non-traditional mascots. While teams like the University of Florida Gators, University of Georgia Bulldogs, and University of Texas Longhorns illicit a more traditional college sports fandom, some smaller schools have a school spirit just as strong that inspires and unites the student body in a more unique fashion.
Here are some other unusual college mascots with histories worth checking out!
Big Red the Hilltopper of Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky
Rainbow Warriors of University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii
The Poets of Whittier College, Whittier, California
The Fighting Okra of Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi
Geoducks of Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington