Now that Calaveras-San Andreas plus three other California high schools will have to switch from Redskins as their nickname, it’s only obvious to assume that more schools with Indian-themed nicknames may choose to switch as well.
Calaveras is not the only CIF Sac-Joaquin Section school that falls under a mandate that was signed into law on Oct. 11 by Governor Jerry Brown. Gustine also will have to change along with Tulare and Chowchilla (which are both in the CIF Central Section).
Tulare is probably the one school where the tradition of the Redskins name runs deepest. As it says immediately on the front page of the school’s web site: “As Redskins, we are a part of a long and proud tradition dating back to 1890.”
Tulare also is where 1948 and 1952 Olympic decathlon gold medal winner Bob Mathias attended. People forget Mathias was only 17 years old when he won gold in 1948 in London and then returned to Tulare where he actually played ““ and starred ““ on the school’s 1948 football team.
To abide by the new ban, all four schools could conceivably retain some of their Indian-themed images on uniforms and buildings by just switching from Redskins to Warriors. That’s one of the most popular nicknames in California and many schools with it also use Indian logos.
It wouldn’t be a surprise, however, to see more legislation in the future that may go further in banning the use of Indian nicknames and imagery. The smart move, therefore, may be to simply change all of these nicknames.
Some examples of schools from around the state that have dropped Indian-style nicknames (usually due to a local school board edict) include Lowell-San Francisco (from Indians to Cardinals), Birmingham-Van Nuys (from Braves to Patriots), Gardena (from Mohicans to Panthers), Encina Prep-Sacramento (from Apaches to Bulldogs), Alemany-Mission Hills (from Indians to Warriors), Tamalpais-Mill Valley (from Indians to Red-Tailed Hawks), Vallejo (from Apaches to RedHawks), Colusa (from Redskins to Red Hawks), Salesian-Richmond (from Chieftains to Pride) and Fremont-Sunnyvale (from Indians to Firebirds).
John Swett High of Crockett also dropped the Indians nickname last February, but students there reportedly have not yet chosen a new mascot.
Those are all fine nicknames, and it’s a little surprising why Red Hawks has been such a popular alternative, but they are not original and don’t seem to have a connection to the community from which the schools represent.
Because of those reasons, perhaps my favorite among all California high schools is the Vintage Crushers of Napa. There are no other Crushers in the state and it fits the Napa Valley wine region perfectly.
On the other side of originality is the many new schools in the state that have stuck with the old stand-bys such as Eagles, Mustangs, Warriors, Cougars, Panthers, Titans and Patriots. Eagles is by far the most popular in the state (more than 60) and Titans was very popular among schools that opened shortly after the movie “Remember the Titans” came out.
At Calaveras, meanwhile, new possibilities are being mentioned, including 49ers (refers to Gold Rush history and being on Highway 49), Gold (strong singular name), Giants (refers to Giant Sequoias of Calaveras County) and Cavalry (unique and just sounds good).
Does this mean that NorCal schools like Marysville (Indians), Napa (Indians), Sequoia-Redwood City (Cherokees), Justin-Siena-Napa (Braves), Ripon (Indians) Palma-Salinas (Chieftains) and Armijo-Fairfield (Indians) should change?
Maybe not, but it’s hard to stop the momentum when someone of Indian heritage in any community makes a request for the change to be made. And when a change does come, it can be fun for students, coaches and others.
But please, no more Eagles.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder of Cal-Hi Sports, and publisher of CalHiSports.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter, @CalHiSports.