During Homecoming season, school festivities often feature their mascots as stars of the show. From the mighty Triton to the playful Pelican, every public school in La Jolla has a mascot to rally its troops. But how did these boosters come to be?
Bird Rock Elementary
In Bird Rock, the elementary school celebrates special events with a visit from their mascot “Rocky, the Pelican.” (Get it? Bird Rock, “Rocky”?) Longtime teacher Lorene LaCava said, “He became our mascot six years ago in time for our 60th anniversary in the 2011-2012 school year, thanks to that year’s fifth-grade class. They came up with the idea that we should have one and followed through to make it happen. The name ‘Rocky,’ won a school-wide vote. Now we have an adult-sized costume and everything!”
“Rocky” often makes an appearance at campus events to garner excitement. Outside the school, pelicans are often spotted landing on the rocks along the coast, visible from Bird Rock.
La Jolla Elementary
Predating current Principal Donna Tripi, the school’s mascot was a whale known as “Gordon.” He’s made a resurgence in recent years, and is now named “Spout.”
“We stopped having him at events for a time, then decided to bring him back a couple of years ago,” Tripi said. “When we did, we did a naming contest and the students chose ‘Spout.’ ”
Little else is known about why La Jolla Elementary wanted a mascot, or why the whale was chosen. However, since the establishment of the mascot, the school has taken the whale theme to heart, sending “whale mail” correspondence to parents. Donning a full-sized blue whale costume, “Spout” most recently greeted students at the Kindergarten barbecue in August.
Torrey Pines Elementary
One of the newest schools to establish a mascot, Torrey Pines Elementary, just changed over from having a “symbol” to a full-on mascot this year. So for the first time, students can cheer as the red-tailed hawks.
“For a long time, we had the symbol of the Torrey Pines, but it wasn’t really a mascot,” Principal Sarah Ott told the Light. “We researched what was unique to this area and what would go with that symbol. The kids voted and the school governance team voted, so we decided to be The Hawks.”
The school is about 15 minutes south of the Torrey Pines State Reserve, where red-tailed hawks are often seen.
Muirlands Middle School
“We love our mascot, the Dolphin, but it sure took us a while to get it,” joked Muirlands Middle School vice-principal Jennifer Nash. The yet-to-be-named Dolphin (which might get a name soon!) officially became the mascot in 2008. Before that, it was the “unofficial” mascot, emblazing PE uniforms and school gear. Before that, things get a little fuzzy.
“There is a bit of a dispute as to what we were before the Dolphin and when things changed over,” Nash said. “Some say we were the Waves, which I remember, and others say we were the Trojans, to go with the La Jolla High School Vikings.” Nevertheless, now that Dolphin mascot is secured – following a student body vote – it is used at pep rallies and to garner excitement, and students often jump at the chance to wear the Dolphin outfit.
La Jolla High School
The La Jolla High School Vikings have been so since 1928 (the school opened in 1922). When it came to deciding upon a mascot to represent the “hardy crew,” Alumni Association founder Sandy Coggan Erickson said students felt a Viking was a “peppy” choice. Originally, the students marked their new identity with logos and emblems on school materials.
“The Vikings’ logo has changed many times over the years,” Coggan Erickson said. “There were many different ships and Viking heads.” Soon, costumed students started showing up in the school’s yearbook pages. Now, the full-sized Viking costume can be seen at athletic events, and to welcome guests and new faculty.
The Bishop’s School
When The Bishop’s School opened in 1909, it was an all-girls school without a mascot. In 1913, Bishop’s students divided into two teams for a Thanksgiving Day basketball game, and the teams came to be called the “Purples” and the “Golds,” the then school colors. The tradition remained for decades.
In 1946, the first event mascots appeared: the Purple Monkey and the Golden Bear. But when the San Miguel School for Boys merged with The Bishop’s School in 1971, the boys brought with them their Knights mascot. “With this merger, the school colors changed from purple and gold to the San Miguel colors — maroon and gold,” explained Suzanne Weiner, the school’s marketing director. Now, there are more than 40 upper school teams donning the Knights emblem.
La Jolla Country Day School
La Jolla Country Day has not one, but two mascots, both with sentimental and historical significance to the 90-year-old school. In 1960, the school moved from its Village location to its home on Genessee Avenue, and incorporated a high school. Around that time, it chose to have school colors (blue and white) and a mascot.
“We’re the Torrey Pines tree, and about 15 years ago, we purchased a tree mascot uniform that appears at our ball games,” said Athletic Director Jeff Hutzler. “On top of that, around 2000, a student named Kenner Michael made himself into Big Blue Man. He wore a cape and painted his face blue and he became a self-appointed cheerleader for the school.” In 2001, Michael was killed in car accident coming home from a school sporting event, so the school carries on Big Blue Man in his honor.
Also pioneered by students, the UC San Diego Triton mascot was decided back in 1964, after much debate. Other ideas considered included: Dolphins, Barracudas, Grizzly Bears and Hornets. Dolphins, Barracudas and Tritons referred to the university’s close connection to the ocean.
Dwindling the choices down to the Dolphin and the Triton, the students narrowly voted the Triton as the victor. According to UCSD history, the voters “stuck with tradition” and chose the state colors and University of California colors — blue and gold.
“A Triton is described as a sea god represented as having the head and trunk of a man and the tail of a fish, and bearing a conch-shell trumpet. Instead of having sea-green hair and eyes, they would be blue and gold,” school records state.