Say goodbye to the Philadelphia Phoenix and say hello to the Philadelphia Gators — for now.
Philly’s American Ultimate Disc League team is changing its name while the Phillies are on the road in Phoenix, for Game 3 and 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“We wanted to not show Phoenix any love in our team name as the Phillies are aiming to get to the World Series,” said Johnny “Goodtimes” Nottingham, an investor in the ultimate frisbee team and well-known Philly quiz master.
Why the Gators? The inspiration lies with the Phillies as well. In September, emotional support animal and social media star WallyGator and his owner Joie Henney were denied entry into Citizens Bank Park for the game against the Pirates.
Nottingham saw the news and reposted it on the Phoenix’s account, saying that if the post got 5000 likes they would change the team name to the Gators.
It didn’t happen, but an alligator idea remained in play.
Nottingham had the perfect artist in mind: his 9-year-old son, Avery.
“When I was walking back to my house, my dad literally said to me, ‘Hey, draw an alligator when we get home,’” Avery recalled. “And I was like, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Don’t ask any questions.’”
The design took Avery 30 seconds to create, and it has all the facets needed for an imposing sports team logo: it’s timeless, easily readable from any distance, and presents the perfect balance of loveable and intimidating.
Given the time crunch to make the design, Avery was happy with it turned out. Though if it was his call what the temporary mascot would be, he would have chosen a spider. A funnel-web spider, specifically.
“Funnel-webs are very poisonous, number one. Plus it can probably just trap the alligator,” he said, asked about a hypothetical fight between a funnel-web, a phoenix, and an alligator (adding a diamondback to this scenario seemed excessive). “The phoenix is made out of fire … but the spider delivers a lot of venom. So it can probably bite the phoenix and it will die.”
Avery described himself as a little bit of a Phillies fan, but his favorite team is the Buccaneers, primarily because of how cool their shirts looked at the store.
“Very disappointing,” Nottingham interjected, “but it is a different sport, so I’m not going to get too upset.”
Getting the approval of the AUDL players was easy, he said, since most of the players on the team are local to the area.
“This is Philly. So we got to show love for our accompanying partner sports teams,” Nottingham said. “Whether it’s the Union, the Eagles, the Sixers, the Phillies, whatever. We all have to do our small part to let them know that the whole city’s behind them.”
Would WallyGator be allowed to come watch ultimate games when the Phoenix return next season? Nottingham was receptive, but said he needed to consult official team policy.
“In my dream world, the answer is not only is he let in, but he runs around the track and spurs the crowd in excitement,” Nottingham said. “I’d give the guy lifetime season tickets if he promises to bring his emotional support alligator.”
So though the Philadelphia Gators will be a short-lived team name, their instant-classic logo and potential celebrity mascot will carry on the legacy — hopefully in honor of a successful Phillies trip to the desert.