Whether you were a Luther Lion like me, a Norman Tiger like Berry Tramel or a Hammond Golden Bear like Mike Sherman, what your high school mascot was an important part of your identity. And while there are plenty of Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oklahoma high school sports is filled with many more interesting mascot names that you may have never heard of.
I tried to whittle the list down to my 10 favorites. Originality is important, alliteration is always encouraged and light-heartedness never hurts.
10. Mill Creek Bullfrogs — A mascot should capture the community you are from, and though I’ve never been to Mill Creek (15 miles southeast of Sulphur), I can imagine this conversation has happened before, “Why is Mill Creek called the Bullfrogs?”
“Because we have bullfrogs in the creek.”
Sometimes a great mascot really is that simple, and although Mill Creek has never won a state championship in any sport, here’s hoping the Bullfrogs hop to the top soon.
Similar mascot considered — Hominy Bucks, Boswell Scorpions.
9. Paoli Pugs — Only one high school in all of America honors one of the country’s most loyal, popular and gassy dog breeds. Extra points for brevity and alliteration. Like Mill Creek, Paoli has never won a state championship, but it’ll be a great day when the regal pug watches a banner go in the rafters.
Similar mascot considered —Thomas Terriers.
8. Bray-Doyle Donkeys — Back in 2014, former Bray-Doyle athletic director Lee Bluejacket told KSWO news that the consolidated school embraces the donkey’s stubbornness and hard-headedness. It’s as original as it gets, as no other school has the same mascot. The Donkeys have never won a state championship either. My advice? Keep being stubborn.
Similar mascot considered — Claremore Zebras.
6 (tie). Beaver Dusters & Grove Ridgerunners — I used to think Beaver was called the Dusters because of crop dusters, but I’m fairly certain it has more to do with the blowing dust that the area saw when it was smack-dab in the middle of The Dust Bowl. It’s pretty cool when you can teach some history in such an original and creative way.
Wikipedia defines a ridgerunner in eastern Oklahoma as “a transporter of illegal moonshine liquor. They were said to ‘run the ridges’ with their illicit cargo to bypass the roads down in the hollows where law enforcement officers might find them.”
Similar mascots considered — Waynoka Railroaders, Watts Engineers, Will Rogers Ropers, Crooked Oak Ruf-Nex.
5. Sallisaw Black Diamonds — A nod to the early 20th century coal mining industry, Sallisaw boasts one of the most original and cool mascots in the country. Only Ashland (Pa.) High School shares the Black Diamond mascot. Sallisaw started playing football in 1916, so over a century of Black Diamonds have taken the field in far Eastern Oklahoma.
Similar mascot considered — Clinton Red Tornadoes.
4. Eufaula Ironheads — From the Eufaula Public Schools website: “According to legend, Eufaula received its mascot nickname from coach Harry ‘Ironhead’ Hansard, who coached at the school at various times during the 1920s and ’30s. A sportswriter referred to the team as Hansard’s Ironheads in a story. Before that, the team was referred to as the Soxless Swedes after head coach Swede Jamerson. Paul Bell, Eufaula’s head football coach from 1962-1980, said the mascot name changed from the Soxless Swedes to the Eufaula Ironheads sometime in the mid ’20s.”
You think Howard Schnellenberger was hard to play for? I bet you didn’t cross Ol’ Ironhead.
Similar mascots considered — Nowata Ironmen, Dewey Bulldoggers, Miami Wardogs
3. Chickasha Fighting Chicks — Shame on Henryetta for ever changing their name from the Fighting Hens and three cheers for Chickasha for staying the course. Sure, a chick is cuddly and cute and doesn’t strike fear in your heart, but it’s a light-hearted, fun and original nickname. No other high school in the country is called Chicks or Fighting Chicks, and the new Fighting Chicks logo that Chickasha unveiled in 2021 is top class.
Similar mascot considered — Fox Foxes.
2. Atoka Wampus Cats — Not only are there no wampus cats in Oklahoma, but there’s no such thing as a wampus cat, full stop. A wampus cat was born out of folklore. It’s a mythical creature with six legs, four for running and two for fighting. Sure, there are quite a few high schools nationwide that share the mascot, but Atoka is the only school to carry the torch in Oklahoma. Plus, the word “wampus” is just so dang fun to say.
Similar mascots considered — Sand Springs Sandites, Alva Goldbugs, Picher Gorillas (RIP)
1. Haskell Haymakers — I’m a sucker for a double meaning, and Haskell takes the cake with the Haymaker mascot. A haymaker is a nod to the farming history of the town, but also has the double meaning of being a knockout punch. The alliteration makes it flow off the tongue in such an easy way, and they’ve embraced the double meaning with open arms by making their logo a punching fist with lightning bolts shooting out either side.
Who did I miss? What would you have put on the list? Send me an email at [email protected] or send me a message on Twitter/X or Instagram at @ToddOnSports, and for crying out loud, go support your local high school sports teams.