In the world of high school mascot names, you won't find anything close to the Rock-a-Chaws.
Take a guess, we dare you. Tell us what a Rock-a-Chaw is.
We didn't know, either. Luckily St. Stanislaus (Bay St. Louis, Miss.)
has a very descriptive website
that details this bayou-based name.
According to the History of St. Stanislaus College, 1854-2004
, Brother Xavier Werneth, SC explains that the word Rock-a-Chaw "comes from an old Choctaw word meaning devil grass, and it refers to the pesky little sand burrs that abounded on campus before the lawns were cultivated. For years College students conscientiously removed the cockleburs from their playing fields where the prolific prickly weeds sprung up naturally in the sandy soil that was ideal for them. Sometimes SSC students dragged woolen blankets across the fields before a game to pick up the rock-a-chaws that stuck with their small sharp spikes."
We definitely should note that in our database, the word "college" is dropped from the school name.
So what makes a type of grass so worthy of being a mascot name? After all, mascot names are generally chosen so that they make a team seem mighty or strike fear in the hearts of opponents.
From what can be found online, locals know to be afraid of rockachaws. On the Gulf Coast Lagniappe blog
, it says "they sting like the devil when they are pulled out." If you know anything about living on the coast in Mississippi, you definitely know not to mess with Rock-a-Chaws.
Fearsome mascots are nice, but the ones that tout regional history and dialect are usually the best ones. The Rock-a-Chaws mascot name definitely fits the bill.
In closing, we leave you with the words of Br. Macarius from 1916:
"There’s a favored spot with a golden shore
Where the waves splash music forevermore.
The creeping grass enamels with green
The banks of that shore with its brightest sheen.
The breezes that blow from the Southern clime
Waft through the oaks with a softened rime.
The tempting cool green invites you to pause
But alas, you will feel the sharp Rock-a-chaws.
What are they? ‘Tis my task to tell—
They’ve got the meanness of the devils from hell.
They’re the most consistent, persistent pest,
That puts a man’s patience to the test.
They lie in wait with a fiendish glee
For the innocent hand or foot or knee.
And they stick with an affection denying all laws,
The rancorous, cantankerous Rock-a-chaws.
In this favored spot stands a College grand
Famed for its athletes throughout the land.
Its football squad is a husky bunch
With brawn and brains--I have a hunch.
And casting around for a name to present
The qualities which to their enemies meant.
Confusion, disaster, and horrid death’s jaws,
They hit on a name of “The Rock-A-Chaws.”