Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, Bayfield, Washburn, Ashland, Mellen, Durand (WQOW) -- Every team taking part in high school sports has a nickname.
Some nicknames are unique, while others are fairly common. What's the most popular nickname in Wisconsin, and what's the story behind some of the unique ones?
Shakespeare wrote, "What's in a name....that which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet." But what about nicknames? For instance, Wild Rose High School, they're not the Roses, they're the Wildcats...and at Eau Claire Memorial, the logo is an Eagle, but the nickname is Old Abes.
"An eagle that followed the 8th Regiment throughout the Civil War, out of Eau Claire," explains Eau Claire Memorial H.S. athletic director Trevor Kohlhepp, "it flew over them for many of their battles, and as they were in battle, my understanding is that eagle's name, they named 'Old Abe,', after President Lincoln at the time. There's actually a history and a meaning behind it, it gives it a little bit more meaning than some other mascots, that are still powerful and great, but ours is really pretty unique."
Old Abe is also the mascot at Racine Case High School, but that school's nickname is the Eagles, one of nineteen high schools across the state with Eagles as a nickname (Almond-Bancroft, Cashton, Destiny, Faith Christian, Jefferson, Kenosha Christian Life, Lac Courte Oreilles, Lincoln Hills, Menomonee Indian, Milwaukee Samuel Morse Marshall, Northland Pines, Racine Case, Sauk Prairie, Sheboygan County Christian, Solon Springs, Southern Door, Suring, Unity, Young Coggs Prep). Now, you thrown in variations like Golden Eagles (Barneveld, Fennimore, Mauston), Silver Eagles (Monona Grove, Weston, Wolf River Lutheran), and Screaming Eagles (Chequamegon), and you're all the way up to twenty-six.
Ninety-two schools have bird-related nicknames, and the most popular bird is Cardinals...from South Shore to Milwaukee South, and all points in between, including Chippewa Falls.
But if you head to the northwest corner of Wisconsin, you'll find some of the most unique nicknames, such as the Bayfield Trollers, Washburn Castle Guards, Ashland Oredockers, and Mellen Granite Diggers.
"It represents the commercial fishing aspect of it," says Bayfield athletic director Jeff Gordon, "the recreational fishing in the summertime, seasonal activity here in northern Wisconsin, it's unique for our school and we're very proud of it, we've had it for many years."
"The original nickname was Crimson Tide," says Washburn athletic director Heidi King, "and in 1894 the high school was built called the Walker High School, and it was made out of brownstone, and it resembled a castle, and it had a tower on it, and so in 1935, there was a sportswriter and he referred to a lot of the players as Castle Guards, and he asked three athletes if they liked the name Castle Guards, and they said they thought it was very fitting, considering that they went to school at the castle on the hill, and it just kind of took off from there."
"It represents a strong people," says Ashland athletic director Brian Miller about the Oredockers nickname, "working-class group of people, who spent hours and hours on top of these ore docks in brutal weather, making sure that the ore flowed an the chips came, so it's a very rich part of the Ashland tradition."
Mellen athletic director Don Moreland says, "I think everybody around here, old, young, they all take pride in the name of the Granite Diggers, because it is unusual, and everybody that sees you're from Mellen, right away, it's you're a Granite Digger, and you know they take pride in that. Actually, our claim to fame is on JFK's tombstone they have on the back of it, if you look it says the granite was mined in Mellen, Wisconsin. They still do get a lot of granite from this area for different things, the countertops and everything, and it's for the hard-working people of the Mellen area."
There are plenty of other unique nicknames across the state of Wisconsin, such as the Kaukauna Galloping Ghosts, the Manitowoc Ships, the Economy Raccoons. So, what's the most common nickname across Wisconsin? It's Panthers...twenty-two schools (Bowler, Durand, Ells worth, Gilman ton, Green dale, Iowa-Grant, Judea, Kick, Canto Falls, Oregon, Palmyra-Eagle, Ermine, Instilled, Plymouth, Prairie Farm, Racine Park, Greenville, Royally, St. Croix Central, Stevens Point, West Salem, Wilma) have that nickname.
"You know, we always talked about the Cardinals being a common one, but you know, here we go, as you mentioned, the Panthers, being the number one in the state, and that's fine with us," said Durand athletic director Barry Terpstra," we like what it represents, it makes for a nice logo, and the kids are happy with it."
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