Devils Lake advocates can't save Satans

Unable to withstand backlash, school nickname will no longer get its due

Sports Plus

September 08, 2002|By Andy Knobel | Andy Knobel,SUN STAFF

Stick a pitchfork in them, the Devils Lake High School Satans are done.

The Devils Lake, N.D., school board unanimously voted Monday night to drop the nickname and mascot and start the process of finding a new name to represent its athletic teams.

"It's hard to stand up and cheer for the Satans," said Kellie Karlstad, a parent of three and the junior varsity girls basketball coach. "It's not an appropriate name for children."

The nickname, used for nearly 80 years, had come under stiff community resistance the past 20 years.

"If Satan has a vote," Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times wrote before the vote, "our guess is that he wants to keep the nickname, come hell or high water."

George Diaz of the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel has a suggestion for a new nickname.

"How about the Devils Lake Santas?" he wrote. "That way they'll instantly have a much jollier image, and the student trainers will only have to re-sew a few letters on each uniform. Can we get a `Ho, ho, ho!'"

Devils Lake may have exorcised its demon, but the folks in Springville and Mapleton, Utah, still have some work to do.

The Nebo school board voted 3-1 in May to keep Springville High's Red Devil mascot, rejecting a Navajo plea that the term is offensive because settlers commonly used the term to denigrate American Indians.

Springville senior Tyler Erickson found the heated argument silly. "I just think it is ridiculous that adults would think about something so stupid," he said.

Horns of a dilemma

No one's going to make Buffalo Sabres right wing Miroslav Satan change his name.

The hockey player is the inspiration for signs at Marine Midland Arena that read "Thank God for Satan" and "Satan is God."

Never mind that the name is pronouced Sha-TAHN.

Satan, a native of Slovakia, says that when he began his NHL career with the Edmonton Oilers in 1995, team officials suggested he add an "h" to his name. He politely refused.

When people ask if Satan is really his name, the player inquires about their names.

"They say their name and I say I wouldn't trade with you," he says.

If only he played for the New Jersey Devils.

The Devils Lake Trout?

The Springville controversy led Scott Taylor of the The Deseret News in Salt Lake City to search out the nation's oddest nicknames.

He found Kangaroos in Washington, Pandas in Kentucky and Polar Bears in Texas.

Birds of a feather include Illinois' Flying Geese and Washington's Screaming Penguins. Texas has Red Ants, Arkansas Redbugs and Illinois Zee-Bees. You've got Cornjerkers and Appleknockers in Illinois, Nebraska Haymakers and California Haybalers, and Florida Spongers and Montana Sugar Beeters.

Travel the U.S. highways and you'll find Jeeps and Jimmies, Wreckers and Wheelers, Truckers and Tractors, Big Trains and Flying Squadron - perhaps all powered by Indiana's Speedway Sparkplugs.

Nicknames spanning the color spectrum include the Dreaded Red and Kentucky's two-tone Bowling Green Purples.

Elsewhere, there are Mightymen and Mightywomen, Gentlemen and Millionaires, Oracles and Nimrods.

Arizona's Yuma Criminals earned their nickname after meeting temporarily in a vacant prison, and Idaho's Orofino Maniacs were named not after the local state hospital but for the athletes' frantic style of play. Fashionable names include Zippers and Wooden Shoes.

You'd expect the Russets to play in Idaho, but Spuds in Minnesota and Spudders in Washington? Completing the buffet are Oregon Cheesemakers, Pennsylvania Big Macs, Illinois Pretzels and Indiana's Frankfort Hot Dogs.

Some nicknames play off the name of the school: the Columbus Discoverers, Roosevelt Roughriders, Lincoln Abes and Polo Marcos. But go figure the Lincoln Alices. The list goes on: Hubs and Cogs. Wampus Cats and Watchdogs. Reapers and Slicers. Atoms and Atomsmashers. Punchers and Flaming Hearts.

Taylor's favorites were the Michigan's Bad Axe Hatchets, Pennsylvania's Boiling Springs Bubblers and West Virginia's Poca Dots.

Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.

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