Vipers, and Lobsters, and Peglegs, Oh My!

Students discuss whether Stuyvesant sports teams should be united under one mascot.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

From the Greyducks to the Vixens, the Penguins to the Peglegs, Stuyvesant High School, like many other schools, has a wide range of sports teams that involve hundreds of student-athletes. However, Stuyvesant deviates from other schools with its 23 different mascots for 42 sports teams, instead of having just one mascot to represent the whole school. Sophomore and junior varsity football captain Derek Fang commented that the situation at Stuyvesant is different from that at his previous school: “Back when I was in North Carolina, everything was the Cougars, just for one school. Pretty much every other school has a single mascot expect for us,” he said.

The mascots are determined through a vote among school officials involved in sports. Health and Physical Education teacher Peter Bologna explained, “A couple of years ago, [the SU] tried to take a vote to see if the school as a whole would like to go to a single mascot or keep it as each team has its own name. The vote was almost a split vote, but a few more points went toward keeping it as is with different names.”

Current Stuyvesant students were also split about their opinions toward this decision. In a poll set up by The Spectator asking whether Stuyvesant sports teams should be under the same name, almost twice as many people voted “no” than “yes.”

Fang, who was part of the minority who voted “yes,” argued that a universal team name would unify the school. “I think we should all have a central name. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the Peglegs, but I feel like that’s probably the best place to go to because it represents the school,” he said.

Bologna agreed that a universal name would be better for the school. “I do see more school camaraderie when they are under one name as a whole, but that’s just purely my opinion,” he admitted.

On the other hand, sophomore Zoe Shah, a member of the track and field team, explained that having different mascots “creates individual team spirit,” she said. She added, “We’re all for Stuy, but it’s just different teams.”

The track and field team has arguably one of the oddest names because most people do not associate ducks with running or speed. Despite this, senior and co-captain Jeanette Cheung had an explanation for the name: “We go to cross country camp over the summer every year and the story goes that the boys’ team may have had too much to drink and they were playing “duck, duck, goose” and one guy just thought it would be funny to go ‘duck, duck, greyduck,’” she said.

Cheung also believes that each team should have a different name and she gave her take on what the student body might think, explaining, “I think a lot of athletes would be opposed because their team name has a meaning to them, and non-athletes won’t really have strong feelings for one side.”

If this were true, sophomore Isabel Leka would be an exception. Leka, who is on the volleyball (Vixens), basketball (Phoenix), and softball (Renegades) teams, does not like any of her team names. When questioned on her choice of name, she chose one of the lesser-known teams: “Personally, Peglegs isn’t my top choice because I feel like it doesn’t really epitomize our school, but I do like Spartans [boys’ bowling and wrestling] because it goes along with the alliteration. ‘Stuyvesant Spartans’ sounds nice,” she said.

For people like Leka, there is hope that one day the names will be unified. Bologna explained, “There’s always been a rumor that some people would like to try to get that single name moving forward.” Bologna hopes that the student body can sway the decision.

Sophomore Saurar Fahim represents the majority of non-athlete students who want to see a single name. Fahim supports the name “Peglegs,” which is the most popular, representing five of the 42 teams. He also sees some names, like the Pinheads (girls’ bowling), as silly substitutes for a name. “It sounds weird, kinda like an insult,” Fahim admitted.

Some other student suggestions for uniform team names were Vikings, Wildcats, Spiders, Kings, and Dolphins, displaying much of the same variety as the current team names. Though Spiders goes along with the Stuyvesant alliteration, it is very similar to the non-PSAL ultimate frisbee team name of Sticky Fingers. Kings and Dolphins were criticized for not being intimidating enough, while Wildcats, though pegged as generic, seemed to be the most popular suggestion.

Even though some names might be odd or extraordinary, most students, athletes, and non-athletes alike, want to keep them different, holding an optimistic view that Stuyvesant is unified through its support for each team’s individuality and representation of Stuyvesant.

Some teams, such as boys’ and girls’ badminton, do not even have an official team name, which is something that students are looking to change to make the Stuyvesant sports community more relatable and accessible to everyone. We hope that the school will be unified not by names, but by a love of sports.