This very minute is the start of the greatest forty hours of the year. It is the first day of spring and March Madness begins at noon today. Almost all of the thirty-two first-round games that are played today and tomorrow are not in primetime, but rather in the middle of the day. The start of the Big Dance is the last major televised sporting event to still occur midday midweek. It is the World Series in 1951. It is calling in sick. It is going to the pub at three in the afternoon. It is great.
The NCAAs also remind us, year after year, that not all institutions of higher learning have bland, common nicknames. One guy counted up college nicknames and found seventy-four schools that field Eagles, forty-six Tigers and thirty-nine Bulldogs. But the NCAAs bring out those inventive, iconoclastic names. This year’s choice is probably Kent State: the Golden Flashes.
But intercollegiate squash, although for some quirk of administration not an official NCAA sport, does match up very well with any college sport in its wealth of nicknames. So in honor of March Madness, I have devised a crude, twenty-four team bracket of the best of college squash nicknames (the NCAAs were a twenty-four team draw until 1974….):
Bowdoin Polar Bears v. Colby Mules
For this in-state derby, you gotta go with Da Bears.
Conn College Camels v. Drexel Dragons
As our son likes to say, a one-hump camel poops a one-hump poop. And dragons are scary.
F&M Diplomats v. Haverford Black Squirrels
Black squirrels are the nice kind, right?
Amherst Lord Jeffs v. Kenyon Lords
Harvard Crimson v. Stanford Cardinal v. Denison Big Red v. Cornell Big Red
Red is not red.
Vassar Brewers v. Wesleyan Cardinals
No more partying in Pougkeepsie.
Tufts Jumbos v. Tulane Green Wave
UVM Catamounts v. Georgetown Hoyas
No one really knows what a Hoya is.
Columbia Lions v. Mount Holyoke Lyons
NYU Violets v. Trinity Bantams
Wellesley Blue v. Dartmouth Big Green
Size does matter.
William Smith Herons v. Hobart Statesmen
Can’t they all just get together and love one another right now up at the College of the Senecas?
Polar Bears v. Camels
Global warming is a killer.
Black Squirrels v. Lord Jeffs
Haverford has the country’s only varsity cricket team—take that M’ Lord.
Cardinal v. Cardinals
Green Wave v. Catamounts
Lions v. Bantams
Why did the chicken cross the road?
Big Green v. Herons
Hate to dis my alma mater, but the big, gawky bird gets it.
Camels v. Black Squirrels
A camel gets you across the desert; a squirrel eats your bulbs.
Cardinal v. Green Wave
Is that then a yellow tide?
Bantams v. Herons
Trinity has won too much lately, right?
Camels v. Green Wave
Tulane’s former nickname was the Greenbacks.
Herons get a bye since I did the draw. They have a hit with the Bard Raptors.
Camels v. Herons.
We are talking some serious squash history being made. Best college squash team nickname of 2008. Well, with a coach called Fishback, it seems they are taking their nickname seriously up in Geneva. Let’s take the William Smith Herons.