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North Bend Bulldogs


Of all mascots, North Bend Bulldogs rise to the top.


You probably heard this before?

“You may forget names and faces, but you’ll never forget how you felt being there.”

North Bend is where the ‘there’ is. It started early.

Those lucky enough to finish their primary and secondary education in one place understand.

Not everyone gets that chance.

Still, kindergarten to diploma in the same district is a good educational goal. It creates stability. North Bend made it even more so. Why?

Who wouldn’t want to be a Bulldog?

Late arrivals, students transferring high schools, don’t always embrace the idea, but kids in for the long haul felt the power.

Besides, when you share the same mascot as the Marine Corps, you’ve got it right.

The Army has it’s mules. And there’s nothing wrong with them.

I saw them hidden in the motor pool in Philadelphia where I was stationed as the on duty medic for the Army-Navy game in 1975.

Nice mules. Well cared for. But they’re mules.

They were hidden because there’s a tradition of mule stealing before the game.

The Navy has Bill The Goat. They’ve got a few of them. Call me nontraditional, but a goat named Bill? Billy Goat? And that floats?

Billy in all of his incarnations is an impressive animal, but just a little too close to a sheep, and who’s got sheep as mascots?

That’s not an image you can get behind.

Their story goes like this: A Navy ship at sea had a goat on board. It died. So they skinned it and someone wore the hide to an Army-Navy game. That’s how traditions evolve?

Mules have a kick, goats have a head butt.

Bulldogs clamp on and never let go.

Who wouldn’t want to be a Bulldog?


Whether you stay in town, or leave, North Bend Bulldogs know where they are from.

Ask others where their from and be prepared to hear things like, “the East coast,” or, “the Midwest,” or “the South.”

When I hear those answers my default interpretation is they are ashamed of where they come from.

Either that or they think you’re too ignorant to understand state names and towns.

More likely people from somewhere else probably get tired of explaining where they used to live.

My favorite is, “I’m from all over. We moved a lot,” which is code for mind your own business.

Ask North Bend Bulldogs where they come from and they might say, “North Bend, just up the road from Coos Bay,” or, “On the left edge of the North American continent, North Bend, Oregon.”

While pride may be a factor in explaining where you’re from, the sort of pride that comes with small town life across the country, it’s more about acknowledging where you started. That’s the clamp on part.

Chances are good that whoever asks where you’re from wouldn’t know Oregon from Idaho, especially if you moved to the Midwest, east coast, or the south. They’re still figuring out where they are, and why.

If you move the calendar forward in life and find yourself coaching youth sports, the teams all need names. My teams were Bulldogs.

One year, some of the kids I’d had on several teams got tired of being soccer Bulldogs, basketball Bulldogs, baseball Bulldogs.

“Why do we always have to be Bulldogs?” they asked.

“Here’s the choices: Poodles, Dachshunds, or Bulldogs. That’s why we’re Bulldogs.”

Then they took a vote on the name they decided.


About small town life for North Bend Bulldogs:

I met a man from Coquille who asked where I grew up.

“North Bend,” I said.

“Oh, one of those city boys.”

North Bend was his big city.

He reinforced the idea that no matter where you are, no matter how forgettable the town, it’s the Big Time for somebody.

North Bend Bulldogs know this as well as anyone. So do Hesper and Hessie.

Old timers look back and see a golden era. Pictures of the sun setting behind the North Bend Bridge helps.

Young people building new lives have the world by the tail. Sometimes the tail swings back.

Remind them to keep as much Bulldog as possible when they meet those challenges.

If you ever face adversity, and you will, it’ll help more than you know.

Clamp down on the important things and don’t let go.

About David Gillaspie
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