In 2020, we are seeing athletes, sponsors, and fans ask their teams and universities to make a real change to their image across the sports landscape. One easy, simplistic way to begin that change is through language. Changing them is definitely a way to stop honoring those on the wrong side of history. As seen recently, the Washington Racial Slurs are planning on changing their name (and we have some ideas to help!). The Cleveland Indians have also recently debated their own name (and we have some ideas to help them, too!). But, what if a team name is just bad? Weird? Both? See: The UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs.

Per the school’s own website, “The Banana Slug, a bright yellow, slimy, shell-less mollusk commonly found on the redwood forest floor, was the unofficial mascot for UC Santa Cruz coed teams since the university’s early years.” The official mascot for the entire UC system was a bear, or some version thereof (Cal Bears, Bruins, etc. until the 1970’s. In 1980, the UC Santa Cruz Chancellor renamed the school’s teams the Sea Lions. 

But UCSC athletics, most notably the Rugby team, had gone by Banana Slugs, unofficially, for decades prior. When the chancellor put it to the students in 1986, the student body overwhelmingly voted to become, officially, the Banana Slugs. 

But what is a banana slug? Banana slugs are usually yellow, but can be tan, green, or brown (kind of like bananas, right?), They’re the second largest terrestrial slug in the world, Who wants to be second? Especially the second slug?

Banana slugs are gross, bloated, and slow. And while that may make for a great blog writer like myself… It does not make for a great emblem of athleticism. Think of the other great California collegiate sports mascots. (USC) Trojans, (Cal Tech) Beavers, (UC Irvine) Anteaters, (Pepperdine) Waves…. Ok, maybe the state needs a lot of Mascot Madness pieces. But why not start with the big yellow number two slug?  

It’s hard. UCSC is a famous Division III athletic program that has risen to public knowledge because of their mascot, so this is a lot of pressure… but the folks here at Belly Up Sports are ready for it. 

Parker’s Idea: UCSC Megalodons

No, I don’t want no slug. A slug is a mascot that can’t get no love from me.

What’s the most intimidating coastal creature? What’s the most ferocious fish? Who is the king of the sea? And what’s the most intimidating version of that? 

The Megalodon. 

Now, this prehistoric sea creature has been found on nearly every continent, but the largest megalodon tooth, aka the megalodon’s weapon? Right there in Santa Cruz, and currently housed at the Santa Cruz Natural History Museum. 

So big, it just ate the Cafe

Megalodons are essentially larger, more powerful great white shark.They were 60 feet long, with teeth bigger than human hands. 

This mascot goes to the TOP of the west coast mascot food chain. Very literally. The Megalodon ran out of space, and the smaller similar predator (great white shark) survived. 

Color schemes are blues and greys, can play off of the nearby San Jose Sharks, or any other shark logos… except BIGGER and BETTER. Because that’s what the top of the food chain is… UCSC is not going to be the second slug anymore. Go ‘Dons. 

Chaka’s Idea: UCSC Krampuses

“Burn, World!”

Some men just want to watch the world burn!

Unfortunately, too many of these men, and women for that matter, had a vote on the UC Santa Cruz mascot back in 86. 

You want a mascot that stands out from the many bears that dot the California collegiate landscape? You want something original, yet kitschy?

How about a half-goat and half-demon monstrosity that kind of plays off of the Christmas theme?

I mean, no one is intimidated by a banana slug. But would you be gung-ho about going up against the fighting demon Santas?

I just want to be there when they send out that mascot from the tunnel; talk about a jump scare? 

You better watch out; you better not cry- because the Santa Cruz Krampus are coming to town!

Kev’s Idea: UC Santa Cruz Ox

I’m strong, unmoving, and will mess a dude up.

Now, hear me out. No, Santa Cruz does not have a history of bovine breeding or farming (at least not to my knowledge.) However, picture an ox. Strong, unmoving, and will mess a dude up. That’s what I want for my mascot, representing the fighting spirit of my athletes. In addition to this, Santa Cruz was settled by the Spanish. What is Spain known for? Bullfighting, which is incredibly cruel to bulls (just an uncastrated ox). This is merely another way to shake those Spanish roots.

Ok, those are all the reasons for why I think the Ox could work, but how did I make that connection? For those who don’t know, I am on the Korner Booth Podcast, and a few weeks ago we had one of my favorite guests on: Cruz Oxenreider. His twitter handle? @TheRealCruzOx. It’s only fitting that we have the RealCruzOx and now the Santa Cruz Ox.


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Find Parker (@painsworth512), Chaka (@chakacummings), & Kev (@BellyUpKev), and check out the Mascot Madness articles on the Kansas City Chiefs,  Wake ForestRISD,  The University of Oklahoma,  old NBA Teams, the Texas Rangers, the University of Mississippi, the Cleveland Indians, and the Washington Racial Slurs for more mascot related content.

About Author

Parker Ainsworth

Senior NBA Writer, Co-Host of "F" In Sports and The Midweek Midrange. Parker is a hoops head, "retired" football player, and sneaker aficionado. Austinite born in Houston, located in Dallas after a brief stint in LA... Parker is a well-traveled Texan, teacher, and coach. Feel free to contact Parker-

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