High School Boys

June 26, 2014

Lifestyles: Tornado Watch with Kubik, Georgetown Prep

by Megan Schneider | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

"I thought, since it's the most terrifying force of nature, of course that should be our mascot" 

Give credit where credit is due.

Syfy debuted its popular TV movie "Sharknado" in July 2013. Rumor has it "Sharknado 2: The Second One" will premiere this month. The frightening combination of a shark and tornado will spike yet another social media storm, but where was the fury first unleashed?

Look no further than one of the nation's top high school boys' lacrosse teams: Georgetown Prep (Md.). The Little Hoyas' longtime assistant coach and favorite Latin teacher Mike Kubik came up with the Sharknado concept more than five years before the movie funneled through your television.

Why did you come up with the "Sharknado" concept?

Georgetown Prep [mascot] is the Hoyas. All we have on any of our gear is an interlocking "GP," but there's nothing else. I'd love to have a mascot. People say we're the Bulldogs, but we're not. That's Georgetown University. They didn't adopt the mascot until the '70s. The kids here had to take Greek and Latin, so the Greek word for "what" is hoya, and the Greek word for "rocks" is saxa. Mechanically, our name is an interrogative adjective. When people cheer at the games, they say, "Hoya saxa." And here's where it gets complicated: The cheer means, "What rocks?" It's just a nonsensical term made up by Catholic school geeks at Georgetown back in the day. They started calling them the Hoyas not knowing what it was, since the newspaper started calling them the Hoyas after they heard this chant. The Hoyas of Georgetown are the Little Hoyas of Georgetown Prep.

So how did you come up with a shark and a tornado?

I always joked that a shark inside a tornado was the most terrifying force in all of nature. So I thought, since it's the most terrifying force of nature, of course that should be our mascot. But no one at the school likes it. It's kind of underground. They would say, "We're the Hoyas, not the Sharknados!" I'm not saying we're not the Hoyas. The Hoya can be whatever we want. Can we please at least have a question mark, a rock man or a big rock, something other than our initials? I didn't even call it a Sharknado. That was the joke name that a couple of the teachers called it. It's just a shark in a tornado, so Sharknado was born. It's just totally goofy.

What's the concept behind the design of the Sharknado logo?

I talk about it with the kids all the time, and I had my own rendition hanging on my wall before I got a graphic artist to design it. I made up this fake mascot with the shark inside the tornado and went to the designer in 2006. That's where it started. There have since been two or three versions.

The first one, you can see that they have done a lot of stuff with nature conservancy or the Baltimore Aquarium. It's a great white shark. I always joked when the Orioles had an actual oriole, it looked like a real oriole, one you would see when you walk around. They said it was an ornithologically correct oriole. So I would say this is an icthyologically correct shark. (Ornithology is the study of birds, while icthyology is the study of fish.) Then one of the teachers, who went to Iowa State, mentioned they have Cy the Cyclone, which is a cardinal inside of a cyclone. The graphic designer had found an old World War II airplane that was painted on the side with a shark, so she basically took the image from Cy the Cyclone, reversed it, added the shark and now it's a shark inside a twister.

What happened when you heard about the movie "Sharknado?"

People ask me if I copyrighted it, because who would even think of that? A shark and a tornado are two of the most random things to put together. As soon as the company, The Asylum, announced that they were making the movie "Sharknado," 40 people were sending me emails asking if I was going to sue them, and I said no. For at least five years before they even announced it, we've been printing it on our stuff. Now we have it everywhere. We have fatheads. Kids have Sharknado ties and put it on prom shirts. It's kind of a big deal. I'm not blaming [The Asylum]. I don't think they stole my idea.

A version of this article originally appears in the July 2014 issue of Lacrosse Magazine. Join US Lacrosse today to start your subscription!

How did you apply the Sharknado concept to your teams?

I'm also the varsity wrestling coach, so I started putting it on the wrestling equipment in 2006. Then the next year, we added it to the lacrosse stuff. Although I'm taking off this year, I also coach Club Blue and they asked, "Can we use your Sharknado?" Yeah, sure! So Club Blue has it on their jerseys, and it just grew from there.

Some of the kids wear patches on their blazers for an old-school feel, so we also did a fake school seal. We put that on the lacrosse gear last year. The kids love it. It's funny because if the school pays for anything, we're not allowed to use it. But anything the kids pay for, they can put whatever they want. The swim team loves it. The diving team uses it. The soccer team uses it. It's an unofficial mascot at this point. I'm trying to make it official, but it's an uphill fight. It's guerrilla marketing.

Georgetown Prep finished No. 4 in the Nike/US Lacrosse National Top 25. How much do you enjoy coaching for one of the top boys' lacrosse teams in the country?

To say that coaching at Prep is pretty intense would be like describing the ocean as wet. Coach [Kevin] Giblin is a fiery competitor, and he pushes the kids and his staff hard. Excellence is no accident, and Prep's tradition comes from decades of hard work by the players, coaches and parents. I am proud to have been a part of the tradition. I'm taking this year off from varsity lacrosse, but I've been coaching forever. This would be my 26th year.

You played on Georgetown Prep's inaugural varsity team in 1987. How would you describe that experience?

I much preferred playing lacrosse with [Denver Broncos great Willie Oshodin] than playing football on the other side of the line. We were pretty much meatheads with sticks. We could barely catch and throw, so the game was very different from what you see at Prep today.

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