A College Nickname Playoff

Published in the October 2019 Issue October 2020 Feature Brady L. Kay

For me, there's no such thing as a boating “season” anymore. When I took my passion and hobby of boating and made it my career, it meant boating season became a 12-month priority and I'm just fine with that. It starts with January boat shows and ends deep in the fall with new boat testing. A career centered on Great Lakes boating – yeah, it doesn’t get much better than that. 

So for me there are only two actual seasons: football season and waiting for football season. Luckily as we roll into October, I find myself in the better of the two. I look forward to football season like a woman does a buy-one-get-one shoe sale.

After years of frustration for college football players and fans, the NCAA finally established the College Football Playoff (CFP) five years ago and it finally allowed the champion to be determined on the field, the way every other sport does it. 

As we gear up for another great college football playoff run, I decided to put together my own version of a playoff system in a way only a boat editor would think of. Unlike the real CFP, my system to figure out which college has the best nautical nickname can’t be determined on the field, but that didn’t stop me.

After evaluating what I felt were important characteristics to become the best of the best, I've compiled my top ten list of “Water-Related College Nicknames” and determined a winner.

10. Dolphins. While I admit I don’t know a lot about Jacksonville University, I feel a name like the Dolphins has to crack the list. I am, however, confused as to why the Dolphins are also the mascot of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. Are there a lot of dolphins in New York that I’m not aware of?

9. Scarlet Wave. Since I’m not aware of any actual boat mascots, “wave” has to be the next best thing, right? That’s why Ohio State–Marion made the top ten and deserves a wave for doing so.

8. Thunder. Even though Lake Erie College shares the same nickname, Lakehead University from Thunder Bay, Ontario, gets the nod on this one, but either way Thunder somehow feels boating related and deserves to be on this list. 

7. Terrapins. Of course the University of Maryland made our list! And considering the ten species of turtles found in Michigan alone, I probably should have ranked them a little higher.

6. Vikings. There are probably other Ohio colleges that come to mind before this one, but only Cleveland State (and at least a dozen other schools) has a Viking for their mascot.

5. Battlin' Beavers. Sure we could have included Oregon State, but they’re just the Beavers. But Blackburn College from Carlinville, Ill., are the Battlin' Beavers!

4. Skippers. You can’t accuse me of going with major college programs since the St. Clair County Community College Skippers from Port Huron, Mich., made my top four, although they just missed the top playoff spot to play for the championship.  

3. Midshipmen. The U.S. Naval Academy of course deserves a spot in the top three as we have nothing but complete respect for the men and women who serve in the Navy.

2. Lakers. Lake Superior State from Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., is a top two nickname school because “Laker” is a term for a lake freighter, a ship designed and built for the Great Lakes. The other Michigan school that explicitly uses maritime imagery in their athletic branding is the Grand Valley State Lakers from Allendale.

1. Great Lakers. Of course State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego earns the top spot. Coming from the editor of Great Lakes Boating magazine it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Did we forget anybody? Go to our Facebook page and tell us which team you think should be included!


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