Forget the Buckeyes, the Zeps are Ohio’s best mascot

Cameron Smith

Ohio may be the Buckeye State, but the nation's largest university (in terms of student population) has a monopoly on that mascot. That, combined with broad population bases at three major cities spread across the state means that Ohio schools have had to develop some original mascots of their own.

The Shenandoah Zeps are named after the first crashed U.S. blimp, and they love it — Noble School District

And original they are. When a team nicknamed the Tarblooders is only the fifth most unique in the state (as judged by readers of USA Today), there must be some truly out there alternatives.

Top amongst them is the team from Shenandoah, who took a page out of state and national history to inspire its mascot.

The Sarahsville (Oh.) Shenandoah High Zeps were perhaps the most natural of any school looking for a one-of-a-kind mascot. That's because the nation's first U.S. Navy zeppelin broke apart very near the spot where Shenandoah High now sits, as built in the 1960s. The USS Shenandoah was cruising across the Midwest airspace in 1925 when it became caught up in violent thunderstorms. The zeppelin crashed in Caldwell Ohio, but the crash made international news and scattered parts of the airship across all corners of the U.S.

Flickr

Now, that moment of history has been preserved in the form of a vibrant high school athletic program, with fans cheering for the Zeps and, more comically, offering up calls like "Come on blimp!" The school's website is even www.gozeps.org . That is dedication to a nickname.

Other Great Mascots of Note:

Where to start in Ohio. The mascots are all so good. Perhaps the Duncan Falls (Oh.) Philo High Electrics, which were named after a power plant that was revolutionary and provided much needed jobs for a region in the 1920s … and no longer exists. There's a legacy for you.

The Norwalk (Oh.) High Truckers may be one of the strongest indications of just how Middle America Ohio is. After a series of other, more boring mascots, Norwalk became the Truckers in 1948 because two major trucking companies -- Norwalk Truck Line and W.L. Mead -- were both located in town. Playing as the truckers was just a way to honor what most students' parents were doing for a living.

Of all the strange mascots, the one with the most distinct and interpretive backstory are the aforementioned Tarblooders, of Cleveland (Oh.) Glenville High. The home of Ted Ginn Sr. and a handful of terrific football prospects over the year, Glenville is a Cleveland neighborhood that was borne from the burgeoning railroad industry in the 1900s. According to USA Today, at the turn of the last century, Glenville was filled with railroad workers who often walked home with tar splattered across their clothes and bodies. In hot days, other residents of the area would say that the railroaders looked like they were sweating blood, and the combination of the tar and blood stuck.

The mascot remains a point of pride for Glenville players present and past, with a red and black version of the Green Bay Packers' logo adorning all uniforms and a half-man, half-robot serving as the school's physical mascot.

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