Top five best Washington high school mascots

By: 
Taylor Newquist
Sports Editor

The following column was published in the Jan. 8 issue of The Statesman-Examiner. Sports editor Taylor Newquist can be reached at sports@statesmanexaminer.com.

The rules here are simple, I make them — everybody knows them.
Possibly the most important aspect to any sports team is their aesthetic, which relies solely on their mascot choice.
The three tiers of successful mascot selection come down to originality, brand identity and of course color options. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be breaking down the best and worst of high school mascots in the state of Washington, and oh boy, are there some good ones.
This week, we’ll start with the best mascots — from No.5-to-No.1, because I’m a sucker for suspense. I’m also a sucker for sarcasm, so keep that in mind.
No.5 — Decatur High School Golden Gators
When endlessly searching through a list of an entire state’s high school mascots, there’s no doubt that a name like the Golden Gators is going to stick out, especially when the closest Alligator to the school is about 2,000 miles away.
For the pure audacity of that, Decatur edges its way onto the list — but don’t think I’m not disappointed in the logo execution.
This Federal Way school has its colors locked down, with a west-side favorite purple and gold lining up well with what I ‘d imagine a cartoon golden alligator looking like, but what the hell is that logo? A bulldog? C’mon guys, lets steal the University of Florida logo, instead of a knock-off Gonzaga Bulldog.
Decatur — you made it, but barely.
No.4 — North Beach High School Hyaks
What is a Hyak? That was the first question that I asked when I saw North Beach’s high school mascot.
Turns out it is a Chinook Jargon word that means ‘hurry, fast or swift’ — at least that’s what wikipedia told me. Native American culture is celebrated in Washington, and amongst Northeast teams like Colville, Rearden and so-on, but none of them do it as well as North Beach.
You could be Sammamish and name yourself the Totems, for some originality points, but I haven’t seen anyone take an actual word from a native culture and incorporate it into their mascot — especially something as cool sounding as Hyak.
While the Hyak’s logo is basic, you have to give them bonus points for not nabbing the closest College teams’ design and slapping a new coat of paint on it. The colors — black and yellow — are hard to go wrong with, making North Beach High School’s sports teams have one of the best mascots in the state.
No.3 — Pateros High School Billy Goats
Ah, the Billygoats. This one should be self-explanatory, but lets let Pateros have its time in the sun.
Goats are not only nature’s grinders — eating tin cans and climbing near-vertical cliffs, but symbols of our greatest athletic achievements.
How you ask? Just stop thinking back to a time when someone called a goat would be the bottom rung, or someone to be disliked.
If you’re out of the loop, goat is an acronym, meaning ‘greatest of all time’. Lebron James is the goat, Tom Brady is (unfortunately) the goat. And Pateros is most definitely in the goat discussion for greatest high school mascots.
They top Chelan on this list, simply for being Billygoats and not Mountain Goats. They’re the same thing, but Chelan’s mascot name just doesn’t back as much punch.
Pateros’ colors are purple and yellow, reminiscent of the Los Angeles Lakers. While I prefer the light gold of the University of Washington and Decatur earlier in the list, purple is the color of kings, so no arguing there.
No.2 Clarkston High School Bantams
Cock-a-doodle-doo.
I worked at The Spokesman-Review sports desk last year, and must’ve typed in Bantams around a hundred times, without knowing what it meant — even though it sounded cool.
While I still haven’t gained much farm knowledge in the past six months, I did learn that a Bantam is a small breed of chicken, where the male is known for its aggression. How is that for one-upping the University of South Carolina Gamecocks?
Clarkston comes in strong with its mascot, that perfectly ties in with the culture of Southeastern Washington. Farming reference — check.
The logo is also one of the best in the state, faintly resembling the Gamecocks’ with flailing wings that make it hard to discern from a distance.
To top it off, I don’t think any team has ever looked bad in black and red.
No.1 Ridgefield High School Spudders
I can see an argument being made for Ridgefield to come near the top of a list of the worst high school mascots, but that’s what makes it great.
Imagine walking into class the next day, after taking a devastating loss to a team named the Spudders.
The crude hand-drawn logo only adds exponential charm to a mascot name that would bring any person with a heart to root for them.
The name also is reflective of the region, as Ridgefield was a major site for potato and prune farming in the early 1900s.
Ridgefield won a fan voting contest in 2013, naming themselves the best mascot in the state in a USA Today poll, tallying 23,503 votes, much more than second place Richland High School’s 16,580 votes. (Note: the Bombers aren’t getting near my correct list).
The Spudders have to be at the top of every best Washington High School mascot list.
Their blue and orange color scheme may hold them back, by being over complicated, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more unique mascot in the country.
Honorable mentions: Lincoln Abes, Camas Papermakers, Davenport Gorillas, Oaksdale Nighthawks, Mansfield Kernels, Lake Washington Kangaroos and Mariner Marauders.

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