From Egyptians to Native Americans, ancient civilizations are known to have marked their territories with symbolic masked creatures in carvings, drawings and on totem poles.
Whether for protection, good harvest or strength during hunting and battle, it wasn’t uncommon for tribal people to dress in ritualistic costumes to solicit the goodwill of their honored creatures.
Sound familiar? It should, because today the custom of the ancient spirit figure lives on through team mascots on every level.
Beyond your run-of-the mill animal variety (Tigers and Eagles are the most frequently used), many Oklahoma school districts have set themselves apart from the rest, with mascots as quirky as the stories behind them.
Some of the most interesting mascots are the ones that pay homage to their respective city’s history, like the Railroaders in Waynoka, which reflect an era when their fledging economy was based around the Southern Kansas Railroad.
In Sallisaw, where the Black Diamonds give a shout out to the coal country they call home, the high school colors of orange and black rule – from the city’s own logo down to the fire hydrants.
“The school spirit our unique Black Diamond mascot generates really creates a sense of community, and our school is right at the center of it all. We take a real sense of ownership in it,” says Scott Farmer, superintendent for Sallisaw Public Schools.
It’s also possible to create a mascot on pure symbolism.
Ask the Sand Springs Sandites, whose inexplicable “Minuteman” icon belies the fact that Sandite is defined as the “person you want to be;” or the Alva Goldbugs, whose obscure bug is simply a symbol of excellence.
To pack a more serious punch, sometimes a typical animal just isn’t enough.
The Miami Wardogs echo early-day Miamians’ admiration of the of the World War I canines, whose ferocious and fearless nature made them ideal for battle.
The Muskogee Roughers are particularly unique. By copyright, the roughneck bulldog “Rougher” can’t be used by any other institution. Ever. The school adopted this one-of-a-kind nickname in 1925 because many players performed without helmets due to lack of funding, and rough play.
Offbeat high school mascots are also a great way to capture the very essence of its residing city’s personality.
In the town of Beaver, the first town built in the territory of “No Man’s Land,” the Dusters pay homage to historical droughts, tornadoes and dust storms endured.
The Chickasha Fightin’ Chicks – well, let’s just say that their mascot lives up to its namesake.
“We catch some ribbing for our fighting chick. Some people think it’s not the most ferocious of mascots, mostly because the word ‘chick’ has a female connotation to it,” explains principal Beth Edwards.
“We’ve had requests to change it over the years, and we’ve voted on it twice, but the students want to keep it. The kids are happy with it and the alumni love it. Our chick is an important icon for the city and it isn’t going to change.”