THE TALON

The Story of Pollo Loco: The Legendary Mascot

Pollo Loco has been the mascot for the AMHS Girls Varsity Soccer Team for years, yet few know how he came to be.

Patrick Vaglienti

Patrick Vaglienti

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The soccer team celebrates a win with Pollo Loco

Pollo Loco was never intended to become the beloved mascot of the Academic Magnet girls varsity soccer team; it just happened that way. One foot tall and made of steel, Pollo Loco can be seen at every varsity girls soccer game, bringing unparalleled support and spirit to the field. For years, Pollo Loco, also known as Po, has attended every girls varsity soccer game, yet few know the story of how the infamous mascot came to be. In fact the origin of Po had nothing to do with soccer and is rather mysterious.

It all started in the year 2012, with a typical birthday party and an unplanned trip to a department store called ROSS (now closed). On March 9th, a group of six AMHS students hopped in a car with the intention of traveling straight to Ellison Brown’s birthday party in Awendaw, South Carolina. The road trip went a little like this: casual conversations of the upcoming celebration, the blaring of Flo Rida from a CD, the mad scramble for directions, and eventually the realization that they would be arriving in Awendaw without the one party necessity: a birthday present. A night of casual fun quickly turned into a crisis situation. With the urban sprawl surrounding Highway 17 slowly fading into the distance, the luminescent sign for ROSS was the group’s last opportunity to acquire their much desired birthday present. Determined to not show up empty handed to the party, the group ventured into ROSS and scoured through its eclectic variety of goods.

The senior players with Pollo Loco celebrating senior night.

There seemed to be something mysterious about the store that night, maybe it was the lighting or the drifting smell of Yankee Candles, but the group felt a strange attraction to a singular rooster figure in the far corner of the store. Though it was unconventional, the teenagers’ limited time paired with their penny-bank budget made the wire rooster quite an appealing purchase. Unaware at the time that this single purchase would later make AMHS history, the group completed the transaction and casually continued with their evening festivities. Arriving at Ellison’s, with chicken in hand, everyone felt at ease and was excited for the night…

One of the first pictures of Pollo Loco at the Saint Andrew’s soccer field, taken in 2012.

Now this is where the story becomes a bit blurred. Somewhere between the cake, the opening of presents, and the end of the party, the chicken went MIA. Whether the rooster was simply forgotten in a car or stolen out of jealousy, it eventually showed up some 32 miles away from its last known whereabouts, standing on the sidelines of the St. Andrews soccer fields. The chicken’s reappearance coincidentally fell in line with one of the soccer team’s major games. With little time to question the chicken’s presence the team continued with their typical warmups to prepare for the high stakes game. Soccer players Baker Walls, Kallie Peurifoy, and Libby Zanin were the only members of the soccer team that had taken part in the crazy purchase of the rooster and understood how odd its reappearance was after Ellison’s party. Though the triad knew the chicken belonged to Ellison, the luck it brought to the soccer team helped them to win their big game and they couldn’t give him up. After his premier at the soccer game the chicken was officially named Pollo Loco, which means crazy chicken in Spanish. 

WE NEED IT, IT’S LUCKY!”

— Baker Walls, Class 2013

Pollo Loco can be seen standing at midfield during soccer games

Though Ellison never regained her birthday gift, the Academic Magnet Girls Soccer team gained a legendary good luck charm and mascot. Pollo Loco is now a celebrity in the high school soccer community with coaches, players, and spectators who flock to take pictures of him. For the members of the team Pollo Loco is a priority on game days. On rare, rare occasion when his designated guardian forgets to bring him to a game, extreme measures are taken to ensure his attendance. Pollo Loco’s safety is also of high concern for the team due to his close proximity to the field. On occasion Po has taken direct hits from soccer balls kicked out of bounds during a game, however the team is always quick to pick him back up and blow him a kiss for luck. Needless to say Pollo Loco will always be known as the beloved mascot for the Academic Magnet girls soccer team.

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