Jenni Geidl is a Maniac and couldn't be prouder.

"I've lived in Orofino all my life. When I was little, all I wanted was to be a Maniac," said Jenni, a 17-year-old senior at Orofino High School who dons the school mascot uniform.But some outsiders label the Maniac mascot as "tasteless" and "inappropriate," saying it suggests fun is being made of mentally ill people who stay at the Idaho State Hospital nearby.

The students insist they are doing nothing of the sort.

"According to the definition of maniac, it doesn't just mean a lunatic or madman," 17-year-old Barbie Butler said. "It also means `characterized by an ungovernable enthusiasm for something.' "

In fact, the Orofino Maniac was born in the 1920s, the students say, when the town's boys basketball team played rival Kamiah and afterward everyone said the downriver team "played like maniacs."

The story may be true. But what is definitely true is that the state hospital had already been established in Orofino by that time.

In any event, Orofino High School students are manic about being Maniacs.

"Who wants to be something boring like a Bengal or Bear when you can be a Maniac?" asks Jason Kessinger, an 18-year-old senior.

Lydgia Anderson said, "It's fun to see others' reactions when they find out our mascot is a Maniac."

The unique name has brought national attention to the town and school.

Jacci Mitchell, 17, said the national sports cable station ESPN picked the Maniac as one of the 10 best team mascots in the country.

"I like the Maniac because of the originality," Jeremy Bruce said. "It shows how we are aggressive and spirited when we play games."