I love osprey, don’t get me wrong. I always wonder in their majesty as I watch them fly overhead or dive into the pond for lunch. But when I say I am rooting for the Seahawks or wear my Seahawk apparel, everyone asks me about the Seattle Seahawks, not the St. Mary’s Seahawks. When someone wears a Terrapins, Buckeyes, Tar Heels, Blue Devils, Horned Frogs, or Banana Slugs sweatshirt, everyone knows who they are rooting for (in case you don’t know, they are Maryland, Ohio State, Carolina, Duke, Texas Christian, or UC-Santa Cruz – and yes, Horned Frogs and Banana Slugs are two of my favorite team names). Teams are named after animals, plants, peoples, mythical creatures, etc., but none are named after my favorite organisms, bacteria! Wolverines, badgers, lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) are all fierce and feared creatures. But I guarantee you that if I told you that you were about to get an extremely painful intestinal disease that will give you explosive diarrhea and you’d be doubled over from knee buckling cramping, you would run for the hills.
Therefore, I propose that we change our mascot from the Seahawk to the Fighting Salmonella. Now that would put us on the map. We could have a big plush Salmonella walking around during the game. We know all of you love the stuffed Giant Microbes™, like the ones in my office (and if you don’t know what I am talking about, stop by my office, Schaefer 216), and would love to have a truly giant one as your mascot. The mascot’s name could be Sal Monella or Sally Monella. Think of the press we would get from this bold move. Think of the headlines in The Post, The Sun, or The Chronicle: “The St. Mary’s Salmonella Ran Them Off the Court” or “It is Gut Check Time for Everyone Playing the Salmonella This Year” or “The Star Striker for the Opponent Developed a Cramp and Could Not Play” or “The St. Mary’s Salmonella Baseball Team Had the Runs Needed to Win” or “St. Mary’s Vows to Play for a New Kingdom.” The headlines are endless. There are many St. Mary’s institutions across this country, and we need to be distinctive.
In addition to helping create a new branding possibility for St. Mary’s, having a mascot named the Fighting Salmonella would help raise the stature of our prokaryotic friends. Everyone would clamor for more information about Salmonella, and the prokaryotes would become better understood (they are very misunderstood). We could be the college that not only provides a unique mascot but, as a good liberal arts college should, makes everyone want to learn more.
AND when there is an outbreak of Salmonella somewhere around the world and people Google for information about Salmonella, what will come up? St. Mary’s College of Maryland Fighting Salmonella! Try that with Seahawks….
-Jeff Byrd, Professor of Biology and Microbial Enthusiast