California is a huge state, so one would assume that it would have a bevy of truly original mascots as well.
That’s not entirely the case, though it does provide a handful of strong contenders. None of those are more intimidating than the Horned Toads, who serve as the proud mascot of Coalinga (Cal.) High School.
According to USA Today, the reason why the Horned Toads make such a good mascot is all in the backstory, which in this case dates all the way back to 1933. That’s when the Coalinga Junior Chamber of Commerce held a random race of wild reptiles. There are no records about why this happened; the Junior Chamber of Commerce apparently just decided that putting a bunch of reptiles on a makeshift track and seeing who could sprint toward a line fastest was a brilliant idea.
That’s good enough for us.
In a fantastic turn of events, these reptile races eventually devoled into an annual Horned Toad Derby, where only the rare, blood-from-the-eyes spitting animals were pitted against one another. It took only five of these races for the practice to become so beloved by the area public that the school adopted the Horned Toads as a nickname.
Is that enough justification to serve as a better nickname than the Marshall Barristers, which feature a chubby man in a judge’s cloak? Maybe not standing on their own, but with that Horned Toad Derby in the background, Coalinga is hard to beat.
There’s the Marshall Barristers mentioned above, which were fittingly named after former Supreme Court Justice John Marshall. Yet there are two others which Prep Rally was particularly fond of:
The Yuba City (Cal.) Honkers come from the pejorative nickname of wild geese, but they could stand for so much more. Also, there can never be complaints about noise makers at Honkers games. That’s just a prerequisite.
Slightly off the beaten path but right up all ecologists alley are the Morgan Hill (Cal.) Live Oak Acorns. Because Live Oaks are a type of tree, of course. Bonus points for the mascot costume which is a big old fat acorn. Hard to make that look intimidating.