Oregon: A land of forest and foraging creatures, Bill Walton and beautiful wilderness. It's also the land of Aardvarks.
Well, it's not truly a land of aardvarks, but a Portland school did sneak in to the spot of the state's best mascot thanks to its decision to use the African mammal as its sports nickname of choice.
Portland (Ore.) Oregon Episcopal School chose the Aardvark as its mascot thanks to student power. According to USA Today, Oregon Episcopal had always competed as the Falcons when students sick of the (relatively) mundane mascot began referring to their teams as the Aardvarks. Eventually, there were so many calling the teams Aardvarks that the student administration gave in, and the official mascot was shifted from a much more sensical Pacific Northwest wildlife inhabitant (the falcon) for a rare animal from a completely different continent.
Seems funkily fitting for Portland, doesn't it?
Other Great Oregon Mascots of Note:
Though the Aardvarks may be the class of Oregon, they aren't even the only native African game to grace a school's sidelines. Adrian (Or.) High plays as the Antelopes, allegedly because a herd of antelopes previously roamed land in the area some eight decades ago.
No word on how the animals got there.
Tilamook (Ore.) High is home to what some food experts consider to be world class cheese. Since there aren't too many places outside of Wisconsin in the U.S. known for their cheese, it's perhaps no surprise that Tilamook took the opportunity of its high school mascot to honor those involved in Tilamook cheese production, leaving the teams to play as the rather unenviable Cheesemakers.
There is no such animal as a Lava Bear. But there are Lava Bears, who play for Bend (Ore.) High. The school chose its mascot as an homage to a legendary small bear which residents saw roaming near the area's lava fields in 1910. It was black and small, and unique enough looking that those who saw it deemed it a potential new species. Thus, the Lava Bear was born, or at least christened. Now, it takes its role on the field and court bouncing around in support of Bend teams.