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Pratt's Greenback named 'most unique' high school mascot in Kansas

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, March 7, 2013, at 7:35 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, March 8, 2013, at 7 a.m.

The Pratt High School Greenback – a fierce-looking frog with a monogrammed sweater and jaunty cap – is the "most unique high school mascot" in Kansas, according to a USA Today online poll.

Now the school is competing for online votes against seven other mascots in hopes of being named the most unusual mascot in its region and then, possibly, the United States.

“We’re all pretty excited,” Curtis Nightingale, assistant principal and athletic director at Pratt High School, said Thursday.

“It’s not a huge deal, but it’s bragging rights. … We think our Greenback is pretty cool.”

The staff of USA Today High School Sports last month chose 255 of the nation’s "most unique" high school mascots – five per state plus Washington, D.C.

On Wednesday, Nightingale learned that Pratt had beaten out such Kansas oddities as the Fowler Goldbugs, Hesston Swathers, Palco Roosters and St. John's Military School Muleskinners to win the state honor. Now it has until 2 p.m. Thursday, March 14 to earn enough online votes to win its region.

Its competitors: the Chinook Sugarbeeters of Chinook, Mont.; the Clear Creek Golddiggers of Evergreen, Colo.; the Holdrege Dusters of Holdrege, Neb.; the Miami Wardogs of Miami, Okla.; the Nazareth Swifts of Nazareth, Texas; the New Castle Dogies of New Castle, Wyo.; and the Victory Christian Centurions of Albuquerque.

To vote, go online to contest.usatodayhss.com and click the “Vote Now” button. Pratt High School is in Region 5.

Nightingale said the school’s unusual mascot has an interesting back story.

In 1925, Pratt High’s football and basketball coach thought too many teams in the region had red-and-white uniforms. The coach “arbitrarily decided to order yellow jerseys” to replace the red-and-white ones, Nightingale said.

“Yellow,” he repeated. “Without really asking anyone. I can only imagine the crushing public sentiment he faced for that decision.”

Two years later, likely after much grumbling, the coach changed the team’s football uniforms to green.

Around the same time, Pratt’s football field had an issue with water collecting on one end and becoming a swimming pool for dozens of frogs. The school’s gymnasium, not far from the football field, became known as the Frog Dome because, “on summer nights, all you could hear was those frogs,” Nightingale said.

Someone – no one knows precisely who – started calling the team Greenbacks because of the frogs.

The name has nothing to do with the U.S. dollar, which is what many people think when they hear the term “greenback,” Nightingale said.

“We’ve always got people asking, ‘Is it money?’ But no, it’s frogs,” he said.

The official school colors became green and white in 1939, and the frog logo was created in the 1950s. A costumed frog that performs at Pratt High School athletic events is nicknamed Ribbert.

The national winner of the USA Today High School Sports contest will get $2,000 for its athletic department, according to the contest website. Second place will win $1,000.

Reach Suzanne Perez Tobias at 316-268-6567 or stobias@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SuzanneTobias.

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