Marc's Distinctive College Mascot Collection: P-S

Last Updated: July 2, 2019

Welcome to Part 4 of my collection of distinctive and unusual mascots of United States college teams. This portion includes schools starting with the letter P through the letter S. New and updated information is denoted by animated images.

Pace Setters (New York, NY) -- The school's logo includes a member of the setter dog breed.

Pacific Boxers (Forest Grove, OR) -- The school chose "Boxers" in 1968 in honor of a bronze Asian Boxer statue given to school in 19th century.

Pacific Lutheran Lutes (Tacoma, WA) -- What is a "Lute," you ask? A shortened form of "Lutheran." PLU's athletic teams had formerly been known as "Gladiators," then "Knights," with "Lutes" being adopted later. Local writers had a tendency to use "Lutes" in place of the longer "Gladiator" name.

Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish (West Palm Beach, FL) -- When Palm Beach Atlantic College was founded, President Dr. Jess Moody remembered an incident from his youth about a fisherman who hooked a large prized sailfish. Young Moody took a picture of the fish and was thrilled to hear the fisherman's account of his feat. Dr. Moody presented the Sailfish at the very first Board of Trustees meeting and the Fighting Sailfish became a part of PBA history.

Palo Alto Palominos (San Antonio, TX) -- A "palomino" is a golden or cream-colored horse with a white tail.

Panola Ponies (Carthage, TX) -- The womens' teams are called "Fillies," the name given to young female horses.

Pennsylvania St. Nittany Lions (State College, PA) -- "Nittany" is a geographical designation, being the name of the valley in which Penn State is located and the name of a nearby mountain. The Nittany Lion as Penn State’s mascot originated with Harrison D. "Joe" Mason ’07. At a baseball game against Princeton in 1904, Mason and other members of Penn State’s team were shown a statue of Princeton's famous Bengal tiger as an indication of the merciless treatment they could expect to encounter on the field. Since Penn State lacked a mascot, Mason replied with an instant fabrication of the Nittany Lion, "fiercest beast of them all," who could overcome even the tiger. Penn State went on to defeat Princeton that day. Over the next few years, Mason's "Nittany Lion" won such widespread support among students, alumni, and fans that there was never any official vote on its adoption.

Pennsylvania St.-Behrend Behrend Lions (Erie, PA) -- This mascot notes the school's affiliation with Penn State and the location of the campus.

Pennsylvania St.-Fayette Roaring Lions (Uniontown, PA) -- This school is a branch of Penn State, whose teams are known as "Nittany Lions."

Pepperdine Waves (Malibu, CA) -- Purportedly one of the best sites for a campus in the United States with views of the Pacific Ocean.

Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens (Claremont, CA) -- The sagehen, a bird native to desert regions of the Southwest, was selected as Pomona College's mascot in 1917. The athletic programs of Pomona and Pitzer united under the "Sagehen" name when Pitzer College was founded in 1963. Often shortened to the "Hens."

Pratt Cannoneers (Brooklyn, NY) -- The teams take their name from the 19th century cannon which stands prominently near the entrance to the campus. Cast in bronze in Seville, Spain, the cannon bears the insignia of Philip the Fifth and was brought to Pratt from the walls of Morro Castle in Havana, Cuba in 1899.

Presbyterian Blue Hose (Clinton, SC) -- According to the college's website, several rumors exist on how this nickname was adopted, including a story that the Presbyterian Scotch-Irish wore blue stockings in the Puritan beginnings of the United States, or that a fierce war-like band of Scotch-Irish named the Hose painted their entire bodies blue before going into battle. The true story probably lies in a 1935 letter written by then-athletic director Walter Johnson to an inquiring English professor in Virginia. He remembered changing the school's athletic uniforms to blue, including blue stockings and jerseys. An unknown sports writer started calling the Presbyterian College teams the Blue Stockings in his articles. In later years “Stocking” became abbreviated to “the Hose,” particularly in newspaper headlines, and was more or less officially adopted by the student body in the late 1950’s.

Providence Friars (RI) -- It is surmised that the reference to PC athletes as "Friars" came from an on-campus service club formed by John E. Farrell called the Friars Club. Farrell was the Graduate Manager of Athletics at the College, who travelled with the baseball team to Dartmouth and learned of a service organization called the Green Key Society, which met and assisted visiting athletic teams. With the help of College president Reverend Lorenzo McCarthy, O.P. a similar club was formed at Providence College. Farrell reasoned that since the College was under the jurisdiction of the Order of Friar Preachers, the nickname was a natural.

Providence Christian Sea Beggars (Pasadena, CA) -- A "Sea Beggar" is a Dutch Calvinist pirate who fought for independence against Spain in the 16th and 17th centuries. In Dutch, these privateers were known as the "Watergeuzen," which translates to "Sea Beggars" in English. Many of the school's founders and students are Calvinists of Dutch extraction, so this name reflects their heritage.

Purdue Boilermakers (West Lafayette, IN) -- A boilermaker is someone who makes or repairs boilers, a tank in which water is turned to steam for heating or power, as in a steam engine. This nickname of the Purdue athletic teams was originally was meant as a term of derision and was among several terms applied to Purdue by Wabash College supporters following a lopsided (18-4) victory by Purdue in 1889. Located just 30 miles from Lafayette and bitter athletic rivals of the day, students of the liberal arts school were inclined to shun the cultural background of Purdue players who represented a school devoted to the practical arts of engineering and agriculture. Boilermakers struck the fancy of the Purdue players, who were also being called cornfield sailors, blacksmiths, pumpkin shuckers, hayseeds, farmers and rail splitters.

Purdue-Calumet Peregrines (Hammond, IN) -- The teams are named for the swift breed of falcon. This name replaced "Lakers" for PUC teams.

Purdue-Fort Wayne Mastodons (Fort Wayne, IN) -- PFW uses the extinct ancestor to the elephant as its mascot. The school helped unearth a mastodon in Angola, IN in 1967. They have kept the fossil in a campus museum since 1970.

Rainy River Voyageurs (International Falls, MN) -- French for "Voyagers." A nearby nationl park shares the "Voyageurs" name.

Richland Thunderducks (Dallas, TX) -- Their athletic logo features a duck carrying a thunderbolt.

Richmond Spiders (VA) -- The personal appearance and unorthodox style of pitcher, Puss Ellyson, prompted a sportswriter to bestow this mascot upon a baseball team that consisted of U. of Richmond students and local residents.

Rhode Island Anchormen (Providence, RI) -- RIC chose this name in the early 1960s. The women are known as "Anchorwomen."

Rhode Island School of Design Nads (Providence, RI) -- This is used by the school's club hockey team, probably because fans and players can chant "Go Nads!" with impunity.

Rockford Regents (IL) -- Defined as those who serve as the head of a government in place of a king or queeen who can not rule for some reason, or the members of a college governing board. Symbolized by a lion, as an alternate nickname for Rockford's teams is or was "Regent Lions."

Rocky Mountain Battlin' Bears (Billings, MT) -- Also known as "Bears."

Rogers St. Hillcats (Claremore, OK) -- A fictitious creature which resembles a panther. The mascot was adopted in the 2005-06 school year.

Rollins Tars (Winter Park, FL) -- A "Tar" is a sailor. Centuries ago, during the age of tall sailing ships, British sailors were known as "Tars." The college's connection with the Tars began in World War I when a small Navy vessel was stationed on Lake Virginia, which borders half the Rollins campus. With the war leaving only ten male students at Rollins, attention shifted to the snappy uniformed trainees going about their duties. The girls called them "TARS." Until then varsity teams were called the "Blue and Gold," but soon the new title was adopted.

Rowan Professors (Glassboro, NJ) -- Usually shortened to "Profs."

St. Bonaventure Bonnies (NY) -- The teams at St. Bonaventure used to be called "Brown Indians," but that name was dropped in 1979. After several years of unofficial use, "Bonnies" was adopted for SBU's teams. This moniker was a nickname given to students by local residents, who also referred to the school as "Bonas."

St. John's Johnnies (Collegeville, MN) -- An extension of the school's name.

St. Joseph's Monks (Standish, ME) -- Even the women's teams go by this nickname.

St. Louis Billikens (MO) -- The Billiken is a good-luck figure who represents "things as they ought to be." Designed and manufactured in the early 1900s as a bank and statuette, the Billiken was the national rage for about six months. A St. Louis sports writer decided that SLU football coach John Bender resembled the Billiken. Later, a cartoonist drew a caricature of Bender in the form of a Billiken and posted it in the window of a drugstore. The football team soon became known as Bender’s Billikens.

St. Louis College of Pharmacy Eutectics (St. Louis, MO) -- Defined as an alloy with a melting point lower than that of any other combination of the same components.

St. Mary Spires (Leavenworth, KS) -- The school's logo includes a spire of a campus tower.

St. Mary-of-the-Woods Pomeroys (IN) -- In remembrance of 1921 graduate Mary Joseph Pomeroy, SP, who served the college for nearly half a century as a student, teacher and administrator.

St. Peter's Peacocks (Jersey City, NJ) -- Symbolized by a defiant-looking peacock.

St. Olaf's Oles (Northfield, MN) -- Pronounced "OH-lees." Derived from the college's name, I'll wager.

St. Thomas Tommies (Saint Paul, MN) -- Probably derived from the school's name; symbolized by an angry cat.

Sam Houston State Bearkats (Huntsville, TX) -- Sam Houston State University's athletic teams have been nicknamed "The Bearkats" since 1923. Early references to "Bearkats" spelled the name either "Bearcats", "Bear Cats", or "Bearkats." Most likely, the name came from a popular local saying of the time, "tough as a Bearkat!" Since the animal in the saying was thought more mythical than real, the spelling settled upon was "Bearkat."

San Diego Toreros (CA) -- Spanish for "bullfighters."

San Francisco Dons (CA) -- A "don" is a title given to Spanish gentlemen.

Schoolcraft Ocelots (Livonia, MI) -- An ocelot is a spotted wildcat of the Americas.

Science and Arts of Oklahoma Drovers (Chickasha, OK) -- A term for one who herds a number of animals from one destination to another.

Scottsdale Artichokes (AZ) -- This mascot was selected in the early 1970s by the students as a protest against the Scottsdale administration. Students were angered by the administration diverting scholarships meant for Native Americans (the school was built on leased tribal land) to out-of-state athletes, building a $1.7 million gym, and trying to spend even more money for a football stadium. When the student government was asked to run an election to name a school mascot, it reacted by giving the students three choices: Artichokes, Rutabagas, or Scoundrels. The election was won by the Artichoke. The shocked administration declared the election null and void. A second election pitting "Drovers" against "Artichokes" was held, with "Artichokes" winning with 70% of the vote. Administrators had little choice but to let the verdict stand.

Simon's Rock Llamas (Great Barrington, MA) -- This name's origins come from the fact that the soccer fields are near a veterinary clinic that used to also host a llama pasture.

Slippery Rock "The Rock" (PA) -- Slippery Rock's official mascot is "Pride," symbolized by a lion. But the name most commonly used to refer to SRU is "The Rock," which is used to describe all of the athletic teams and the school itself.

Snead State Parsons (Boaz, AL) -- A "Parson" is another term for a minister. The women's teams are called "Lady Parsons."

South Carolina Gamecocks (Columbia, SC) -- The original "Game Cock" name appears to have taken hold in 1902 after USC upset archrival Clemson in football. Carolina students paraded through the streets near campus carrying a transparency that had been hanging in a local tobacco store window. The transparency featured a gamecock standing over a fallen tiger (Clemson's mascot) and had been drawn by South Carolina Professor F. Horton Colcock. The picture could have been inspired by one of South Carolina's storied military figures, Thomas Sumter, nicknamed the "South Carolina Game Cock." During the War of Independence, Sumter donned the colors of the gamecock and was well-known for his fearlessness fighting the British. By 1904, the two words were joined to create "Gamecock" and the name stuck for South Carolina's teams.

South Carolina-Beaufort Sand Sharks (Beaufort, SC) -- The school adopted this mascot in 2007.

South Carolina-Sumter Fire Ants (Sumter, SC) --The school chose this name because "the Fire Ants represent more than a group of individuals, but a group which works together to very effectively achieve one common goal.”

South Dakota Tech Hardrockers (Rapid City, SD) -- This mascot was adopted in the 1920s and inspired by miners who mined hard rock searching for gold.

Southeastern Oklahoma St. Savage Storm (Durant, OK) -- This name was chosen in 2006 as replacement for "Savages."

Southern Arkansas Muleriders (Magnolia, AR) -- In the early 20th century, Southern Arkansas players used to ride horses to train stations for away games. One day, a woman mistook the horses for mules and said "Here come those muleriders again!"

Southern Illinois Salukis (Carbondale, IL) -- The Saluki is one of the oldest known purebred dogs in the world. They were used as hunting dogs by the Egyptians. The area around Carbondale, home of SIU, near the convergence point of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, is known as "Little Egypt."

Southern New Hampshire Penmen (Manchester, NH) -- The women's teams also go by this name.

Southwestern Moundbuilders (Winfield, KS) -- The town of Winfield tried to become famous for building a huge mound of rocks in the early 1900s. The effort at fame soon ran out of steam, as the mound reached only 20 feet in height. The mound is currently on the campus of the school.

Spokane Sasquatch (WA) -- The fictional "missing link" between man and beast supposedly waiting to be discovered in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.

Spoon River Snappers (Canton, IL) -- Adopted in 2013 and represented by a snapping turtle. Earlier mascots at Spoon River included "Crusaders," "Mudcats," and "Rage."

Stanford Cardinal (Palo Alto, CA) -- This refers to one of the school colors and was officially adopted in the 1980s to replace "Indians." Stanford’s history with its nickname began after Stanford beat California in the first "Big Game" in 1891. Local newspapers picked up the "cardinal" theme and used it in the headlines. The redwood tree has also been a school symbol and is modeled after El Palo Alto, the tree which is the logo of the city of Palo Alto.

State College of Florida Manatees (Manatee-Sarasota, FL) -- The college chose this name to recognize its lineage of athletic success when the school was known as Manatee Junior College and then Manatee Community College.

Stetson Hatters (DeLand, FL) -- Honors John B. Stetson, the nationally-known hat manufacturer who gave generously of his time and means to advance the quality and reputation of the institution and served as a founding trustee of the University.

Sussex County Skylanders (Newton, NJ) -- The northwestern New Jersey area is known as "The Skylands."

Swarthmore Garnet (PA) -- Garnet is a deep red color. The teams are also called "Garnet Tide."

Sweet Briar Vixens (VA) -- The all-women's college chose this name in 1979. The term is defined as "female fox," or "a quarrelsome woman." The college's website says, "The Oxford American Dictionary offers two definitions. Either works. Take your pick."

Syracuse Orange (NY) -- From the school color (chosen due to the University's onetime affiliation with the Protestant church), which was chosen in 1890 to replace the original rose pink and pea green. Before the recently dropped "Orangemen" name became widely used, local journalists referred to the teams as the "Hillmen" well into the 1930's and '40's, due to the fact that the campus sits at the top of a very large hill. The current SU mascot is a large orange named Otto.

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