State Nickname Teams

For reasons I can’t quite explain, I find the nicknames of U. S. states pretty interesting. Maybe it’s because Canadian provinces don’t really have nicknames the same way—there are some well-known ones, like “The Island” (P. E. I.), “The Rock” (Newfoundland), and “La Belle Province” (Quebec), but they aren’t official, not every province has one, and they’re just not that cool. Here’s a list of nicknames of provinces and territories, but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about state nicknames. Every state except Wisconsin has an official one, and most states have a few additional descriptive, well-known, unofficial nicknames. There are a lot of teams, especially college teams, that use their state’s nickname either directly or as inspiration for their mascot; here are the ones I’ve found:

State Nickname Team Name League/Association
Arkansas Natural State Northwest Arkansas Naturals Texas League
Indiana Hoosier State Indiana Hoosiers NCAA
Iowa Hawkeye State Iowa Hawkeyes NCAA
Louisiana Pelican State New Orleans Pelicans NBA
Michigan Wolverine State Michigan Wolverines NCAA
Nebraska Cornhusker State Nebraska Cornhuskers NCAA
North Carolina Tar Heel State North Carolina Tar Heels NCAA
Ohio Buckeye State Ohio State Buckeyes NCAA
Oklahoma Sooner State Oklahoma Sooners NCAA
Oregon Beaver State Oregon State Beavers NCAA
South Dakota Mount Rushmore State Rapid City Rush ECHL
Tennessee Volunteer State Tennessee Volunteers NCAA
Utah Beehive State Salt Lake Bees Pacific Coast League
West Virginia Mountain State West Virginia Mountaineers NCAA
Wisconsin Badger State Wisconsin Badgers NCAA

With these in mind, I thought it would be interesting to see how other state nicknames would translate to team names, logos, and uniform designs. I’ll add designs to this post as I finish them. My plan is to have primary designs focus on states’ official nicknames with special alternate designs for notable unofficial nicknames or aspects of the state not covered by the primary identity. I’m not going to work in any particular order.

Here are the ideas for teams I have so far, subject to change:

State Nickname Team Name Sport
Alabama Yellowhammer State Montgomery Yellowhammers Hockey
Alaska The Last Frontier Fairbanks Frontiersmen Hockey
Arizona Grand Canyon State Flagstaff Canyon SC Soccer
California Golden State Sacramento Gold Baseball
Colorado Centennial State Lakewood Centennials Hockey
Connecticut Constitution State Hartford Constitution Basketball
Delaware First State Wilmington Firsts Hockey
Florida Sunshine State Sarasota Shiners Hockey
Georgia Peach State Savannah Peaches Basketball
Hawaii Aloha State Honolulu Alohas Basketball
Idaho Gem State Boise Gems Football
Illinois Prairie State ????? ?????
Kansas Sunflower State Wichita Sunflowers Basketball
Kentucky Bluegrass State Lexington Bluegrass Baseball
Massachusetts Bay State Provincetown Bays Baseball
Maryland Old Line State ????? ?????
Maine Pine Tree State Augusta Pines Hockey
Minnesota Land of 10,000 Lakes Twin Cities Lakers Baseball
Missouri Show-Me State ????? ?????
Mississippi Magnolia State Jackson Magnolias Soccer
Montana Treasure State Helena Treasures Football
Nevada Silver State Silver Carson City Soccer
New Hampshire Granite State Manchester Granites Baseball
New Jersey Garden State Jersey City Gardeners Baseball
New Mexico Land of Enchantment Santa Fe Enchanters Football
New York Empire State Staten Island Emperors Basketball
North Dakota Peace Garden State ????? ?????
Pennsylvania Keystone State Harrisburg Keystones Football
Rhode Island Ocean State Providence Ocean SC Soccer
South Carolina Palmetto State Charleston Palmettos Basketball
Texas Lone Star State Austin Lone Stars Football
Vermont Green Mountain State ????? ?????
Virginia Old Dominion State Norfolk Dominion SC Soccer
Washington Evergreen State Olympia Evergreen SC Soccer
Wyoming Equality State ????? ?????

FLORIDA: Sarasota Shiners

February-April 2020

In a lot of cases I’ve chosen state capitals or largest cities to base these teams in, but that wasn’t the case here. I’m trying to avoid putting teams in cities that already have teams playing at the top level of the same sport, which ruled out the Miami and Tampa Bay areas. Tallahassee, the capital of Florida, would still be an option, but “Tallahassee Shiners” doesn’t have the same ring to it, and “Shiners” seemed better suited to Sarasota anyway.

When I first started thinking about state nicknames as team nicknames, I was a bit worried about how they would all translate, so, to play devil’s advocate, I tried to think of the least intimidating state nickname. While there are others I was forgetting, it was the Sunshine State that came to mind. Sunshine is not very intimidating (sorry Phoenix Suns) but then it occurred to me that I could alter it to “Shiners”, which sounds to me like a tough, old-school kind of hockey team, since “shiner” is slang for a black eye. Hence, the primary logo is a pun; it’s a hockey mask with a black eye, except the black eye is a bit of sunshine. The secondary logo, which appears on the shoulders of all three jerseys, depicts the state of Florida with a similar sunshine pattern centred on Sarasota on the Gulf Coast. Admittedly the geometry of this secondary logo was another part of the reason I chose Sarasota.

The alternate logo is a reference to Florida’s unofficial nickname, “Alligator State”.

And, of course, the jerseys, which use the Face Off M54 font and Steven Grant’s template:

I played around with several different colour schemes, including yellow/orange/double green and yellow/orange/black/turquoise, but ultimately the cleaner look of yellow/orange/black prevailed. As you can see, I added green for the alligator on the alternate jersey, and I considered adding more throughout that jersey as well, but eventually decided to focus on team colours outside of the necessary green in the logo. The black base with orange and yellow gives it a strong ’80s Canucks vibe, but I think the colour scheme makes more sense for a Florida team than it did for a Vancouver team.

NEW JERSEY: Jersey City Gardeners

April 2020

I started thinking about this one pretty early in the process of conceptualizing teams, since I live in Jersey City. Some of the earliest organized baseball was played in Elysian Fields in Hoboken, just north of Jersey City, and “Gardeners” is the sort of timeless, non-threatening nickname I think of old baseball teams using (e.g. Athletics, Red Sox, Dodgers), so it seemed natural to make this a baseball team.

I knew from the beginning that I had to use green for a team named the Gardeners, but the rest of the colour palette was open for debate. Just before starting this project, I was on a bus from Hoboken to East Rutherford, to see the inaugural game for the New York Guardians of the reincarnated XFL. Somewhere along the way, I’m no longer sure if it was Weehawken or Union City or North Bergen or Secaucus, I saw a red brick building, of the sort common throughout Hudson County, with the trim around the top painted lime green. I quite liked the combination, so that’s what I stuck with for the Gardeners, along with the addition of buff, one of the state colours of New Jersey and the background colour of the state flag.

The cap logo is a “JC” monogram with a few leaves representing the team name; that seemed the best fit for the classic look I was aiming for with the two regular uniforms for the team. I also created an “NJ” monogram in the same style to represent the state.

I also created a secondary “green thumb” logo that’s used on the sleeves of the home and away jerseys, and on the fronts of the two alternates.

The uniforms use Academic M54 font and a template based on the one found here.

Traditionally, the road uniform should be grey, but that would have clashed with the brick red and green and especially the buff of the team’s actual colour scheme. Hence, I settled on buff jerseys with an otherwise traditional look. I’m not completely happy with the script on the home jersey, but I think it gets the point across, and I think the initial “G” did turn out quite well.

The alternates depart rather significantly from the traditional look. The first of those two includes a sublimated brick pattern, representing all those red brick buildings I mentioned before. The second is a blue-purple colour to represent the New Jersey state flower, the violet. I didn’t come across any inspiring nicknames for the state other than the well known “Garden State”, but I thought it appropriate for a team named the Gardeners to pay tribute to the state flower.

NEW MEXICO: Santa Fe Enchanters

May 2020

I’ve never been to New Mexico, and I don’t know too much about it. That being said, I am a big fan of the New Mexico state flag. It is distinctive both in its red and yellow colour scheme and its use of the sun symbol of the Zia people. Before Florida claimed the title more officially, New Mexico was known to some as the “Sunshine State”.

The stripes of the sun play more of a role in the uniforms and the tertiary logo, but I had trouble figuring out how to represent the “Enchanters”. Eventually I settled on a throwback-style cartoon of a wizard playing football, similar to the old Dallas Texans and Kansas City Chiefs logos. I decided to put the character’s head on the team’s helmets and though the full-body version doesn’t appear anywhere on the uniforms, I imagine it being used in branding and merchandise.

The tertiary logo is a football with the laces replaced with the stripes from the Zia sun symbol.

The uniforms use K. O. Activista font and a template I created myself.

The uniforms include jerseys and pants in red, yellow, and white, such that they could be mixed and matched. The four stripe pattern appears four times on each of the first three uniforms: on either side of the pants, on the helmet, and in the logo on the left sleeve. Four is the sacred number of the Zia. The right sleeves have the silhouette of Shiprock on them, representing New Mexico’s natural beauty. The fourth jersey is based on the official state question: “Red or green?” This refers to red or green chile, and so the uniform balances red and green elements, with opposite coloured sleeves and pant stripes. The helmet retains its yellow base but has a green chile pepper on one side and a red one on the other; this look was inspired by the Chargers helmet, but using peppers in place of lightning bolts.