Marc's Distinctive College Mascot Collection: K-O

Last Updated: July 2, 2019

Welcome to Part 3 of my collection of distinctive and unusual mascots of United States college teams. This portion includes schools starting with the letter K through the letter O. New and updated information is denoted by animated images.

Kansas Jayhawks (Lawrence, KS) -- The name is derived from a Union militia that fought a border war versus Missouri in the 1860s. A favorite chant of the school is "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk!"

Kent State Golden Flashes (Kent, OH) -- Symbolized by a golden bird emerging from a lightning bolt. This name was adopted in 1926 to replace "Silver Foxes."

Kentucky State Thorobreds (Frankfort, KY) -- I think this is a stylized spelling of "Thoroughbreds," a horse bred for racing. The womens' teams are called "Thorobrettes."

Kenyon Lords (Gambier, OH) -- Lord Kenyon of England was an early benefactor of the school. The women's teams at Kenyon are known as the "Ladies."

Knox Prairie Fire (Galesburg, IL) -- Adopted to symbolize the passion and intensity of the athletic teams.

Lake Tahoe Kokanee (South Lake Tahoe, CA) -- Kokanee is the name of a species of land-locked lake salmon. The kokanee were introduced to Lake Tahoe from a fish hatchery. Every fall the Kokanee spawn in a creek very near campus. "Kokanee" was adopted as the college's mascot after a 1978 vote.

LaSalle Explorers (Philadelphia, PA) -- This name was attached to LaSalle teams by a sportswriter who mistakenly thought the school was named for the famous French explorer LaSalle. The college is actually named for St. John the Baptist de La Salle, who founded the Order of Christian Brothers

Lasell Lasers (Newton, MA) -- The school states, "light has been a part of Lasell's rich history. It is in this tradition of light, and the pursuit of knowledge and excellence, that our athletes bear the name LASERS. Lasers are by definition a source of intense energy. Therefore, like a laser, our athletes are fast, focused and intense on the fields and courts of athletic endeavor."

Lemoyne-Owen Magicians (Memphis, TN) -- They were originally called "Mad Magicians," for their trickery in a 1936 football game. A magician's top hat and wand serves as a school logo.

Life Running Eagles (Marietta, GA) -- This mascot dates to 1991.

Lock Haven Bald Eagles (PA) -- During a baseball game that Lock Haven was losing in the 1890s, a bald eagle perched itself outside the left field fence. Lock Haven rallied to win the game and credited the eagle with bringing good luck to the team. The women's teams at Lock Haven are called "Lady Eagles."

Loras Duhawks (Dubuque, IA) -- This nickname dates back to 1924. In a preview story for the upcoming football game between Columbia (as Loras was known at the time) and the University of Detroit, the Detroit Free Press focused on the school's recent 7-3 win over the Coe Kohawks. At the time, the college did not have a nickname, so the Free Press sports writer took the liberty of referring to the players from Dubuque as the Dubuque Hawks, and later in the story as the “Duhawks.”

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (Lafayette, LA) -- The name was given in the 1970s when then-Sports Information Director Bob Henderson described the football team as "Ragin' Cajuns" since over 90% of the team was from South Louisiana.

Luther Norse (Decorah, IA) -- The school was founded by Norwegian immigrants. The town of Decorah hosts an annual Nordic Fest and was a waystation for Norwegians moving west in the 1850s.

Manhattan Jaspers (Riverdale, NY) -- The unique nickname of the school’s athletic teams comes from one of the College’s most memorable figures, Brother Jasper of Mary, F.S.C., who served at the College in the late 19th century. He was Prefect of Discipline and the school's first baseball coach.

Manhattanville Valiants (Purchase, NY) -- This nickname has its roots in a basketball game in 1974, when Tim Cohane Sr., father of Manhattanville basketball's coach, remembered a quote from Jeanne d'Albret, mother of Henry of Navarre: “A coeur vaillant, rien d'impossible,” translated into English as “To the valiant of heart, nothing is impossible.” School tradition states the team rallied from a big deficit to win the game that day. By 1978, all teams at Manhattanville had adopted the nickname.

Maple Woods Centaurs (Kansas City, MO) -- The centaur is a mythical beast: part horse, part man.

Marist Red Foxes (Poughkeepsie, NY) -- A 1961 meeting marked both the birth of the Marist College basketball team and the adoption of 'Red Foxes' as the official nickname and mascot. Athletic Director Brother William Murphy decided to organize a varsity basketball team to play scheduled games against other schools and thought a nickname and logo would be appropriate. While glancing at a sports catalog, Brother Murphy noticed a reynard, more commonly known as a red fox, on the cover of the book. He decided this furry little creature, indigenous to the Hudson Valley, was to become the mascot and logo of all Marist College teams.

Mary Baldwin Squirrels (Staunton, VA) -- Symbolized by a tough-looking squirrel in a fighting pose.

Maryland Terrapins (College Park, MD) -- Maryland's state reptile is the diamondback terrapin, a freshwater turtle. Dr. H.C. Byrd, a football coach who later became University President, recommended the Diamondback as mascot in 1932. Byrd's childhood in Crisfield, Md., apparently included skirmishes with this brand of snapping turtle, indigenous to Chesapeake Bay. Since the school paper was called The Diamondback, and the Class of 1933 stepped forward with the idea of giving the University a permanent bronzed version of the turtle as its graduation gift, the terrapin was adopted as Maryland's mascot.

Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers (Baltimore, MD) -- This name was chosen in 1966, partly because the retriever is the state mascot of Maryland. The athletic logo includes a black retriever dog.

Marshall Thundering Herd (Huntington, WV) -- Thought up originally in 1925 by a local sportswriter, who took the name from an old Zane Grey novel. The mascot was officially adopted in 1965 and is symbolized by a buffalo.

Massachusetts Minutemen (Amherst, MA) -- Chosen in 1972 and honors the famous Massachusetts patriots who were said to be ready and armed to fight the British for independence in a minute. The women's teams at UMass go by "Minutewomen."

Masschusetts-Boston Beacons (Boston, MA) -- Chosen in 1974 to symbolize Boston's heritage as a port with many beacons to show ships that land was near. Symbolized by a lighthouse with its beacon shining brightly.

Massachusetts-Dartmouth Corsairs (Dartmouth, MA) -- A term for a pirate or pirate ship.

McDaniel Green Terror (Westminster, MD) -- This mascot was first attached in print to the school in 1923, after a tough loss in football.

Meredith Avenging Angels (Raleigh, NC) -- Adopted in 2007 to reflect the prowess of the athletics program. The athletes were formerly known as "Angels."

Metropolitan State Roadrunners (Denver, CO) -- The Roadrunner has been the school's mascot since 1974, when it replaced Metro's first mascot, the Mustang. Students acquired the "Roadrunners" nickname to describe how they were often seen dodging traffic to get to and from class.

Miami-Hamilton Harriers (Hamilton, OH) -- The Northern Harrier is a slim, graceful raptor (bird of prey) with long pointed wings, long tail, and white rear. Harriers are known for their low cruising flight patterns, their surprise attacks, and their keen hearing.

Midland Chaparrals (TX) -- A "chaparral" is better known as the "roadrunner." The bird is native to the American southwest and is known for its long tail feathers and impressive speed when running. The chaparral moves about by running instead of flying. This name is often shortened to "Chaps" or "Lady Chaps."

Minnesota Golden Gophers (Minneapolis, MN) -- Minnesota's "Gopher State" name came from a satirical political cartoon drawn in 1858 to mock the legislature's plan to provide railroad loans. The cartoon featured heads of legislators on bodies of gophers riding the "Gopher Train." The "Golden Gophers" name was inspired by the golden uniforms worn by Minnesota's championship football teams in the 1930s.

Monroe Tribunes (Rochester, NY) -- A "Tribune" was a Roman messenger or leader.

Moody Bible Archers (Chicago, IL) -- This apparently does not refer to people who participate in archery, but from an arch. The Moody Arch is the unofficial main entrance to the campus. The Arch itself is an important part of the school identity -- it is found on school literature and within the school logo.

Mount Saint Mary's Athenians (Los Angeles, CA) -- Residents of ancient Athens.

Murray State Racers (Murray, KY) -- Symbolized by a racehorse.

Muskingum Fighting Muskies (New Concord, OH) -- A "muskie" is a type of fish. I would guess that the college's name may have lent itself to this nickname, too.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (Lincoln, NE) -- Prior to 1900, Nebraska teams were known as "Bugeaters," named after the insect-devouring bull bats that hovered over the plains. In 1900, Lincoln sportswriter Charles S. (Cy) Sherman provided the "Cornhusker" nickname that has persisted at Nebraska for over a century. Sherman tired of referring to the Nebraska teams with such an unglamorous term as "Bugeaters," so he sought a new university nickname. He started referring to the Nebraska teams as "Cornhuskers." The name became popular, so popular that the state became known as "The Cornhusker State."

Nebraska-Kearney Lopers (Kearney, NE) -- Officially, they're known as the "Antelopes." The "Lopers" name appeared in the 1950’s when the local daily paper, The Kearney Hub, began using the term. The student paper quickly picked up on "Lopers" and the word has stuck ever since.

New England Nor'easters (Biddleford, ME) -- A name for the windstorms that lash the Northeastern coast of North America.

New Mexico Lobos (Albuquerque, NM) -- The Spanish word for "wolves."

New Orleans Privateers (LA) -- A "Privateer" is a crew member of a privately owned ship used in war to capture enemy ships. The term is also applied to the ship itself.

Newport News Builders (VA) -- The city is noted for its ship-building industry.

New York Violets (New York, NY) -- NYU does use the bobcat as a mascot, but their teams are known as "Violets," named in part for the violets that grew under the shade of the trees in Washington Square Park.

North Carolina Tar Heels (Chapel Hill, NC) -- The state of North Carolina is nicknamed the "Tar Heel State." There is no definitive explanation why, though a number of theories exist. One states that during the Revolutionary war, British troops fording the Tar River found tar dumped in it to slow their crossing. The tar covered their feet. Two other theories credit Robert E.Lee with applying the name to North Carolina soldiers during the Civil War, either with the quote of "God bless the Tar Heel boys" or "There they stand as if they have tar on their heels." A ram has been used as UNC's symbol since 1924, when Vic Huggins, UNC's head cheerleader, decided that Carolina needed a mascot like N.C. State's Wolf Georgia's Bulldog. At the time, Jack Merrit, known to his fans as the "Battering Ram," was a popular member of UNC's football team. Making use of this nickname, Huggins hit upon the idea of a ram as the Carolina mascot.

North Carolina School of the Arts Fighting Pickles (Winston-Salem, NC) -- Apparently suggested as a joke when the school held a contest to create a mascot in 1972. There's also a legend that a pickle company agreed to sponsor the school's football team, so the team adopted the pickle as mascot in its honor.

North Florida Ospreys (Jacksonville, FL) -- A type of hawk which feeds solely on fish and is an excellent diver. This mascot was adopted in 1979.

North Texas Mean Green (Denton, TX) -- In 1966, the football team's defense, which happened to include future Hall of Famer Joe Greene, was nationally respected. The wife of the sports information director yelled the nickname "Mean Green" at a game and it caught on. The name was heavily emphasized in the 1970s. The school also uses "Eagles" as a nickname and mascot.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (IN) -- One story suggests this moniker was born in 1899 with Notre Dame leading Northwestern 5-0 at halftime of a game in Evanston, Ill. The Wildcat fans supposedly began to chant, "Kill the Fighting Irish, kill the Fighting Irish," as the second half opened. Another tale has the nickname originating at halftime of the Notre Dame-Michigan game in 1909. With his team trailing, one Notre Dame player yelled to his teammates - who happened to have names like Dolan, Kelly, Glynn, Duffy and Ryan - "What's the matter with you guys? You're all Irish and you're not fighting worth a lick." Notre Dame came back to win the game and press, after overhearing the remark, reported the game as a victory for the "Fighting Irish." The most generally accepted explanation is that the press coined the nickname as a characterization of Notre Dame athletic teams, their never-say-die fighting spirit and the Irish qualities of grit, determination and tenacity. Notre Dame alumnus Francis Wallace popularized it in his New York Daily News columns in the 1920s.

Oberlin Yeomen (OH) -- According to the dictionary, a "Yeoman" is a free member of the working class, just below the gentry in the social class hierarchy. The women's teams at Oberlin are known as "Yeowomen."

Oglala Lakota Bravehearts (Kyle, SD) -- The "Brave Hearts" were warriors of Lakota society charged with defending those who could not defend themselves.

Oglethorpe Stormy Petrels (Atlanta, GA) -- "The Petrel" (pronounced 'Peatrel'), a breed of marine bird, can fly at sea against the fiercest storms and strongest winds.

Ohio State Buckeyes (Columbus, OH) -- A "buckeye" is a small, shiny, dark brown nut with a light tan patch that comes from the official state tree of Ohio, the buckeye tree. “Buckeyes” has been the official Ohio State nickname since 1950, but it had been in common use for many years before. The first recorded use of the term Buckeye to refer to a resident of the area was in 1788, some 15 years before Ohio became a state. Col. Ebenezer Sproat, a man of large girth, led the legal delegation at the first court session of the Northwest Territory in Marietta. The Indians in attendance greeted him with shouts of "Hetuck, Hetuck" (the Indian word for buckeye), it is said because they were impressed by his stature and manner. He proudly carried the Buckeye nickname for the rest of his life and it gradually spread to his companions and to other local settlers. By the 1830s, writers were commonly referring to locals as “Buckeyes.”

Ohio Wesleyan Battling Bishops (Delaware, OH) --The nickname dates to 1925; before then Ohio Wesleyan University's teams were simply known as "The Red and Black," or sometimes as "The Methodists." Because many schools adopted red and black as their colors and there were 14 Methodist colleges in Ohio, a new name was needed to cut down on confusion. A contest was held, with "Battling Bishops" chosen as the winner. Ohio Wesleyan is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, and has produced many of its bishops.

Ohio-Zanesville Tracers (Zanesville, OH) --This nickname may have been inspired by the famed Zane's Trace frontier road.

Oklahoma Sooners (Norman, OK) -- Named after the settlers of the territory who snuck into Oklahoma sooner than their competitors (and sooner than they were supposed to). The state is known as the "Sooner State."

Oregon Tech Hustlin' Owls (Klamath Falls, OR) -- The teams are also known as "Owls."

Oswego Great Lakers (NY) -- The city is located on Lake Ontario, one of the five Great Lakes.

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