Home Court Advantage: Channeling School Spirit With a Memorable Mascot
This post is in partnership with Pepsi Refresh Project
A school’s mascot can hold a mirror to its heart, historical roots, or just its playful side. To wit, here’s a roundup of some of the most unique and memorable mascots in the country that offer a lesson in channeling—and inspiring—school spirit.
Ben & John, Franklin & Marshall College
Founding Father Benjamin Franklin and former Chief Justice of the United States John Marshall inspired the Diplomats, the athletes of Franklin & Marshall College located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. According to the athletic department website, the Franklin & Marshall football team was penalized during a 1935 match against Fordham University for spending too much time in the clubhouse during halftime, indulging their “penchant for oratory” and going on at length about their game plan. When a New York sports columnist dubbed them the Diplomats, the name stuck. Ben and John were introduced in late 2007, and the historical faces have been formidable—and also perhaps very polite and fair—cheerleaders at their athletic games since.
Image via F&M College magazine
Gladys the Fighting Squirrel, Mary Baldwin College
Tough as nails? Or cute as a button? These traits are not mutually exclusive, as exhibited by the squirrel that 1) fights, and 2) whose name, of all things, is Gladys. The image of a squirrel, which had been on the family coat of arms of Mary Baldwin, the founder of the college, and incorporated into the official college seal in 1929 and later adopted by the college’s sports teams, wasn’t really threatening. However, its uniqueness was clinched when the director of the Annual Giving chose the name from submissions during a college staff team-building exercise in 1985 or 1986. It was chosen purely for its randomness.
Image via Mary Baldwin College Facebook page
Ephs the Purple Cow, Williams College
Already noted as “The Most Lovable College Mascot” by Reader’s Digest in May 2011, the cow is named “Eph” after Ephraim Williams, who founded the college posthumously via his last will and testament. But why is it a cow, and why is it purple? At the time of the student body’s decision to choose a mascot in 1907, the on-campus humor magazine was called The Purple Cow. The purple has been the school’s color since 1865.
Image via Williams College
The Cobbers, Concordia College
This adorable and fierce-looking corncob (named Kernel Cobb, natch) is the mascot for this liberal arts college based in Moorhead, Minnesota. The name “Cobber,” derived from “Corncobs,” was a term of ridicule hurled at Concordia students in 1893, but the students have since then re-appropriated the name, and gave the mascot a fightin’ spirit as evidenced by a snarling face. In pictures of it moving, it sports a stride—with its arms and legs made of corn husk—that imparts determination.
Image via Concordia University
WuShock, Wichita State University
The name WuShock is derived from the term “shocking,” which refers to the process of harvesting wheat. According to legend, the football team manager of the school in 1904 referenced the team on a poster as the “Shockers” for a football game between them and the Chilocco Indians because many of the players earned money by harvesting wheat during the off seasons. The “Shock” was later combined with erstwhile name of the school when it was known as Wichita University, or WU. The energetic, scowling bundle of wheat has been the mascot since 1948.
Image via WU
Morty the Eutectic, St. Louis College of Pharmacy
Befitting a college of pharmacy, this educational mascot’s full name is Mortimer McPestle, and he’s a Eutectic, which refers to the scientific process of two solids being combined to form a liquid. Now you know.
Image via St. Louis College of Pharmacy
The Railsplitters, Lincoln Memorial University
Before President Abraham Lincoln was celebrated as the Great Emancipator, he was known as the “Rail Splitter,” someone who split logs to build fences. The moniker furnished him with an image as a hard-working man of the people. As a mascot for the LMU Railsplitters, he’s also hard at work raising school spirits at athletic events.
Image via LMU
Read more from the GOOD Guide to the School of Life here.
The Vision for a 21st Century Drive-in Way out in West Texas, a grand plan for a drive-in movie theater promised to invigorate an entire community.
A New Social Network for Marijuana Users So stoked on that joint that you just have to share it with the world? There’s an app for that.
A $113 Million Idea Conquering the World is a Beautiful Thing to Watch A hypnotic data visualization of the spread of one of history's most viral phenomenons
Spreading the Word on High-Impact Nonprofits, a Dollar a Day A site created by volunteers and a Kickstarter founder offers you a small way to support innovative philanthropic organizations.
The Show Must Go On An interview with Tig Notaro Tig Notaro on comedy, creativity, and cancer.
5 of Rory’s Favorite Books That Perfectly Explain Gilmore Girls Rory Gilmore, a rolemodel for a generation of bookish young women, expressed herself best through literature.
Vermont Farmers Pilot a Whiz-Bang Solution to Fertilizer Pee-cycling saves water, feeds plants, and helps low-income farmers. What’s not to love?
Freelance-Friendly Cities Being your own boss has never been so affordable. Work-Life Balance: What makes a Freelance-Friendly City?
This Yoga-in-Schools Program Just Raised $31,000 in Crowdfunding R.I.S.E. introduces Bay Area teens to yoga, to help with self-image, grades, and other adolescent nightmares.
A New Olympics Just For Nomads Playing polo with a 100-pound goat carcass to save nomadic culture and build national pride in Kyrgyzstan.
New Detroit Program Trades Houses for Literary Excellence Write a House names Brooklyn poet Casey Rocheteau as first recipient of free home in Detroit
A Chance in Hell Yaks, America, and The Apocalypse Up against an $88 billion beef industry, it takes a leap of faith to raise yak in the United States.