“Spiritual” nicknames are especially defining in NCAA sports, and there’s certainly no shortage of them.
Out of 300+ NCAA Division I and hundreds of Division II and III athletic programs, many boast spiritual type nicknames and mascots and not just those of Gators, Ducks, Eagles, Tigers, Bulldogs, etc.
Clever “spiritual” nicknames and mascots capture the essence of a team, and they also personify a school’s history, geography, tradition or playing style or, in this case, its religious affiliation.
Perhaps the greatest singular “spiritual” college nickname of all-time belongs to the University of Illinois’ legendary Galloping Ghost, a phantom-like figure on the football field.
In addition to Red Grange, college sports boast a much broader collection of team oriented “spiritual” nicknames, covering the gamut from heavenly emissaries to dastardly hellions from the underworld.
The Friars (Dominican order of Catholic priests) from Providence College, the Battlin’ Bishops (honored leaders in the United Methodist Church) from Ohio Wesleyan University and the Dons (esteemed nobles in church hierarchy) from the University of San Francisco serve as both ambassadors of their faiths and noble nicknames for their respective schools.
Spiritual protectors also figure prominently in my collection. The Maccabees (Old Testament Jewish rebels) from Yeshiva University, the Griffins (Biblical winged lions) from Canisius College, the Threshers (Old Testament temple laborers) from Bethel College and the Crusaders from Holy Cross College and Valparaiso University all preside vigilantly over their respective campuses.
The spiritual references don’t stop at the campus gates.
The Quakers from the University of Pennsylvania, the Fighting Saints from St. Lawrence University and the Angels from Meredith College add to the spiritual collegiate atmosphere, making proud biblical scholars and church historians alike.
Because we’re talking college sports here, godly emissaries and fighters for their faith need to be particularly strong every time they suit up for their college or university.
These spiritual mascots do figurative battle against more than just fleshly competitors. As the Bible suggests, they war against principalities with equally strong and talented teams sporting different kinds of spiritual nicknames.
The university landscape is littered not merely with heavenly representation, but with demonic entities that challenge their authority.
Demons & Devils: Spiritual College Nicknames of a Different Sort
For example, demons and devils of every color, size and shape line up on the other side of the ball against righteous Friars, Dons, Bishops, Crusaders and Saints.
In addition, demons of the underworld try their talons against one another. Blue Devils from both Duke University and DePaul University may be the most famous nicknamed scoundrels in college sports.
However, scores of other imps and villains ply their devilish trade in college sports.
Sun Devils from Arizona State University, Dust Devils from Texas A & M International, Sea Devils from Cape Fear College, Red Devils from Dickinson College and Devils and Devilettes from Mississippi Valley State University wreak their havoc on the hardwood, track, football field and baseball diamond.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, you’ve got to love the diversity of “spiritual” nicknames that pervade the landscape of college sports.
That’s why as a group, “spiritual” NCAA nicknames rank as my #7 pick in my FREE sports comic book Best About Sports.
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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!