On the Extinction of the Toad

The Toad is a symbol associated with different parts of Thacher, including serving as our mascot and being the convenient acronym for “Teacher on Active Duty.”

But while the humble toad is beloved by some and has been around for many years, it is time to stop using this amphibian to represent our sports teams because it is no longer representative of our school nor of our sentiments towards athletics.

The Toad is an outdated symbol of a time when Thacher was not an athletically competitive school, and thus must be replaced by a new image that better represents our school’s burgeoning athletics. Mr. (Derf) Coleman, recalls that when the school chose the Toad as its official mascot, there was a negative sentiment on campus surrounding competition and athleticism. Competition was seen as counterproductive and unnecessary, and sports themselves were not a major part of the school’s culture.

However, this was decades ago. Today, every student is required to take part in an afternoon activity and most of the options are sports. Sports-related announcements constitute a great part of assembly, and for those students on both JV and Varsity teams, sports consume hours of their time everyday of the week. Athletics is undoubtedly a bigger part of Thacher than it was when the Toad was first adopted. Therefore, we must evolve with the school’s new attitude by choosing a new mascot.
Leo Turpan ‘13, a tri-varsity athlete, shared his opinion of the Toad.

“I think [the Toad] downplays the seriousness of Thacher sports and it sends a message that [athletics] are not a significant part of the school. When the Toad was originally created, a bunch of other schools took the same approach of choosing unassuming mascots. Today, sports are very competitive and they provide opportunity for college scholarships, team-building, cooperation, and demonstrating leadership. The Toad should remain a part of our community, (like the Teacher on Active Duty) but I think the mascot should be changed.”

Our new mascot should be one that demonstrates that we are a school with promising and talented athletes, a school that encourages and promotes sports, and above all, a school that acknowledges the value in competition and friendly rivalry. The Toad does not represent any of these principles that the school now highly regards.

The reasoning behind the selection of the Toad is flawed and irrelevant to our school today. Nick Thacher CdeP 1963 first proposed the idea of permanently linking the Toad with the school by touting the Toad as a modest creature. He once said:

“Unlike the insecure schools whose machismo necessitates their adopting hopelessly arrogant nomenclature such as ‘Tigers’ and ‘Lions’ and ‘Spartans,’ [we] felt no necessity to advertise arrogance or virility. Instead ‘Toads’ seemed appropriate because the nature of such beasts is one of humility and quiet persistence.”

The intention behind choosing the Toad is respectable, but there are also major limitations in this reasoning. First, a school’s mascot need not dictate the attitude of its athletes. If we change the Toad to something less deferential, for example, the Stallion or the Pegasus, our athletes would still have the same values of sportsmanship and fair play upheld today.  Second, choosing the Toad because it is humble is contradictory. We are being pretentious by advertising our humility. It is not humble to say that we are humble.

Most importantly, even Nick Thacher himself admitted during an assembly this year that when entries for a new mascot were taking place, he “submitted the Toad as a joke.” If even the original supporter of the Toad deems is to be a joke, it is about time that we, as a community, decide to choose another mascot to represent our athletic team.
The Toad should be replaced by other animals or figures that are more symbolic of our school. Many students and faculty share the common experience of riding a horse five days a week and spending countless hours in the barns.

Hardly a day goes by where a Thacher student does not see a horse, whether he or she is involved in the expansive horse program or not.

Even making the Pig our mascot would make more sense than the Toad. After all, we raise, feed, and eat pigs, and last time we checked, our toad husbandry program was not exactly thriving. We personally have no idea how the toad was somehow relevant to the Thacher School. Is there some lake or river that we do not know about? Was there a thriving population of toads in Libbey Swamp before the recent effects of climate change dried it up?

Though the Toad might have deep-roots to our school’s history, it is also important to acknowledge that our school has changed.  Jasmynn Roman ‘13, another tri-varsity athlete, expressed her attachment to the current mascot.

“I love the Toad, I do not want it to change. I think that the whole foundation of why we chose the Toad is awesome. We have so many stories and legends and I love the one of our school’s mascot. It fits Thacher and the way we are as a school.”

But regardless of the Toad’s supporters, few students want to be associated with a slimy, ugly wart-covered amphibian. The toad was meant to be a mockery of athletics and competition. It is difficult to think of an animal less appropriate or one that brings to mind more negative connotations. Throughout history, the toad has been (and still is to an extent) associated with plague, poison, demons, and witchcraft. Are these the ideas we want other schools to think about when they hear our name?
A big part of sports competitions is the mental evaluation between teams before a game or a race. For example, when doing a team warm-up before a game, we are taught to do the exercise as an organized and focused unit. We do this not only to intimidate the other teams, but more importantly, to show that we are performing to the best of our abilities. If we call ourselves the toads, we create an awkward discrepancy between the weak nonchalant image of the toad, and the way we act as athletes.

In addition, our mascot should more accurately depict how we see ourselves.  We should be proud of our team and its mascot, but then why do none of our uniforms have “Thacher Toads” embroidered on them? Why does hardly anyone cheer “Let’s go, Toads!”?

Headmaster Michael Mulligan believes that the Toad is a “fun mascot.” He adds, “I can see the arguments from both sides, and am open to discussions on this issue.”

Although the Toad is an old and cherished emblem of our school, it is time to adopt a mascot that better embodies our sentiments towards athletics and our school in general. And in the words of Nick Thacher himself, when deciding on the extinction of the Toad as our official mascot, “the choice is yours.”

ANA URGILES ’13 & OLIVER DOMERGUE ’13