Animals and natural phenomena figured strongly in the names readers gave their fictional World League football teams. But so did buildings, food, warriors, plants, and hats.

Animal names included some fairly standard lions, tigers, bears, dragons, jaguars, rattlesnakes, bulls (one raging), and eagles.

Then there were the not-so-conventional Tokyo Crickets, ''because in Tokyo the cricket is an important insect,'' Niktahsa Lakisha Cunningham of Charlotte, N.C., assured us. Opponents might learn to tremble at the thought of the Mighty Kittens, the Fighting Fish, and the London Eels.

Kendall Thirlwell, a second-grader from Louisville, designed a uniform for the ''Eiffel Hollies of Paris,'' explaining that ''the mascot is my dog, Hollie. On the field, you could have somebody that dresses up as a brown dog.... The socks have bones on them because dogs like bones.'' (There were many variations on the Eiffel Tower theme.)

Typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, meteors, comets, lightning and thunder bolts, earthquakes, and volcanoes were popular. By contrast, others suggested the Paris Peacemakers, the Lovers, and the Hearts. Four-year-old Daniel Cadmus of East Meadow, N.Y., submitted one of the gentlest: the Tap Dancers of San Francisco.

Ronald Hutagalung of Bethesda, Md., called his team El Gente of Mexico City. It means ''the people,'' he wrote. ''I chose it because the team belongs to the people.'' Aztecs, samurais, matadors, cowboys, and Indians were also submitted.

Vincent Smith of Boston named his team ''The Aliens.'' ''My teacher went to Mexico City and saw a football game,'' he wrote. The team ''played so well that they seemed like aliens from some faraway planet.''

Other less-conventional names: Greens, Purple, Sombreros, Cactuses, Sushis, Pesos (with a spiraling-coin motif signifying Mexico's up-and-down currency), Chile Peppers, and the Massive Rams.

Many classrooms took on this project as a group activity. Among them: Cook Elementary, Grand Blanc, Mich.; The Hall School, Gresham, Ore.; McClintock Middle School, Charlotte, N.C.; The Meadows School, Las Vegas; South Gate (Calif.) High School; The Suffolk County (Mass.) House of Correction, Boston; Walt Whitman High School, Bethesda, Md.; and Waitsburg (Wash.) Elementary School.

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