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What's really in a nickname?Posted Thursday, November 5, 2009, at 4:50 PM
When you browse through the list of nicknames for schools throughout the state of Indiana, you run across some that are rather bland and some that aren't so bland.
One day while searching through the Indiana High School Athletic Association Web Site, I ran across a list of nicknames. It was a list that included the top 10 names.
Sitting at the top of the list is Panthers which is sported by 19 different schools. That one edged out Warriors (18), Eagles and Tigers (17), Bulldogs (14), Cougars and Trojans (12), Knights (11), Wildcats (10) and finally Braves and Patriots (9).
I threw those in just so you couldn't say that I didn't try to mention the most common.
What you may or may not be familiar with are those unique monikers, you know the ones that have some bearing or meaning to only one school -- and thus only one nickname like it in the state.
Some are just a derivative of the school's name -- such as the Cloverdale Clovers -- while others are more of a play on the name of a school such as the Indianapolis Washington Continentals or the Frankfort Hot Dogs.
I'm not really sure this qualifies directly under this category, but I certainly find the name interesting -- the Rising Sun Shiners. See what I mean?
Another category of nicknames comes from a reference to the school or town's natural assets, such as the Shoals Jug Rox or the Shakamak Lakers (just to keep it on the local level) or Linton-Stockton Miners.
And let's not forget what I consider to be one of the most unusual nicknames in all of high school sports -- the Hobart Brickies -- which is named for a local industry and may well be the only one like it in the country.
Then there are those with some sort of tie to a historical reference. That list includes many whether they be real, inferred or just naturally went along with the school's name.
One of the best examples I found for that reasoning was in the Oracles of Delphi. For those of you who don't know that comes from I believe Greek Mythology.
Another good historical reference -- and obviously related to what sounded good in relation to the school's name -- was the Plymouth Pilgrims (which are also referred to as the Rockies, which also sounds good).
Just for the record, I did graduate from Vincennes Lincoln High School and just for the record the nickname Alices isn't what most people believe.
It's not based on historical reference ala "Alice of Old Vincennes". Instead it is based on the historical record of sports writers in the 1920's.
That's when coach Adams led the Vincennes High School Buccaneers to the 1923 state title. Yes, that's right the Buccaneers, I researched it in high school and found proof in editions of the Vincennes Sun.
After Vincennes advanced to the state championship, much to the surprise of the members of the media covering the event, they were dubbed as "Alices in Wonderland."
The moniker stuck and sometime in the mid 1970's the nickname was officially adopted. My memory isn't that good as to when in the 70's, but take my word for it.
Now let's concentrate on the local teams for a while and where they actually stand as far as being either unique or unusual.
Bloomfield joins four other schools -- East Chicago Central, Seton Catholic, Southport and Washington Catholic -- in being named after the famous red bird.
Eastern Greene and North Central (Farmersburg) have the distinction of being the only two teams in Indiana to be nicknamed Thunderbirds which sets up an interesting footnote.
The two schools meet each year in most every sport, so shouldn't the team that does the best overall get a trophy for being the top T-Birds in Indiana?
Linton-Stockton and White River Valley carry their nicknames solely. No other school in the state sports Miners or Wolverines, while Union (Dugger) joins the aforementioned 13 other schools to be called Bulldogs.
If you took all of the nicknames in the state and formed some kind of pseudo-tournament, who would prevail?
You can begin by eliminating most of the 10 most common among themselves.
Panthers, Cougars, Wildcats and Tigers would surely fight each other to see who gets to chew up the Bulldogs.
Surely a Knight could slay any of those before facing off against either a Brave, Patriot or Trojan. And since the Knights were more of the most noble fighters in history, we'll give them the benefit of the doubt and award them a win by default. (Hey it's my tournament so I can declare who I want the winner).
Throw in the other unusual or distinctive names and I'd guess you'd have a battle that rages on for days until finally a Comet or a Caveman battles a Marauder or a Marksman and ends up bagging a Mustang.
This could go on for days...
See ya next time.
Rick Curl is a sports writer at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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