Meloneers, Oysters, Beetdiggers: Mascots provide smorgasbord
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Upon recently spotting an article on ESPN.com (sports.espn.go.com/travel/news/story?id=3224604) highlighting some of college athletics’ most offbeat nicknames, I found myself wondering what quirky mascot offerings Colorado high schools boasted.
Turns out there are more than a few that qualify as jaw-droppers in our fine state. Here are my top five and the stories behind them (what I could dig up in a day, anyway):
Buried in the southeast part of that state, Rocky Ford farmers are widely known for their melon production ” watermelons and canteloupes, specifically.
So Rocky Ford High School adopted the Meloneer as its official mascot.
Principal Ryan Nesselhuf explains, to the best of his ability, the school’s mascot choice ” though its origin predated his tenure.
“We’ve had a couple people research and try to find out,” he said. “If I could find anything, it’s because of the dominance of the melon farming here. It’s funny. We think of a meloneer as a melon farmer, even though our mascot is an over-steroided watermelon.”
Oh, and the school’s colors ” red and gold ” were chosen for specific reasons.
“It’s red and gold because of the red of a watermelon and the gold of a canteloupe,” Nesselhuf added.
Just one glance at the “over-steroided melon” vaulted this one to tops on my list.
This one’s right in our own backyard. The Carbondale school has a ranch history and its mascot originated sometime back in the 1960s or ’70s, according to CRMS director of communications Jeremy Simon, who did some digging on the matter.
“A school cook once made Rocky Mountain Oysters; our school, as you may know, has a ranch history, and one of the work-crew activities was castrating steers,” Simon relayed by e-mail. “When he told the students what they were, the kids were horrified at first, but then decided it would make a great name for the boys soccer team. At some point later, the girls chose Pearls as a play on oysters.”
Simon notes that the school’s non-soccer players (the school offers its students a wide range of outdoor sports options) don’t refer to themselves as Oysters.
Brush is a beet-harvesting hotbed and gave its high school the Beetdigger mascot for just that reason.
Before mechanical pullers were developed in the mid-1940s, beets were plowed from the ground, picked up with the hook of a beet knife and topped with the blade of the knife. Beet workers used a hoe to dig and to properly space the distance between crops.
According to a document detailing the origin of Brush’s mascot that a school official so kindly e-mailed to me:
“During beet harvest, school would be dismissed so students could help. Many times when those students came back to school or to practice, other students would call them beetdiggers.”
Nothing strikes fear in an opponent like a baby lamb!
Ah, but Fort Collins High School has proudly boasted the Lambkin mascot for the last century. The sheep-raising industry was once big in the area.
Here’s a shocker: Fort Collins is the only school in the nation with the Lambkin mascot.
Long live mini-donkeys!
There’s no more fitting nickname for this Fairplay school, as its city is the annual home to Burro Days, a festival held the last weekend in July.
The main feature of the festival: a five-hour, 29-mile burro race that traverses unforgiving terrain. The race is considered the world championships of burro racing.
Interesting that a school in Colorado would tab an animal found mostly in eastern Africa as its mascot, but Poudre did just that.
For the record, the impala is defined as a medium-sized African antelope.
Poudre is the sole U.S. school with the impala as its mascot.
Honorable mentions: Alamosa Mean Moose, Aspen Skiers, Fountain Valley Danes, Haxtun Fightin’ Bulldogs, Hoehne/Sargent/Wheat Ridge Farmers, Northglenn Norse, Mountain View Mountain Lions, Vail Mountain School Gore Rangers, Vanguard School Coursers.
Contact Jeff Caspersen: 384-9123
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The 50th Carbondale Mountain Fair last weekend included the 42nd running of the Mt. Sopris Runoff 14-miler and its companion 4-Mile Fair Run foot races after a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic.