Fervor over team names hasn’t hit high schools

Students and alumni of Caldwell High School have been the Redskins for as long as they can remember.

“I graduated from Caldwell in 1974 and I’ve coached here for the last 34 years,” said Dugan Hill, the head boys and girls track and cross country coach for the school. “I’ve been a Redskin that entire time and will continue to be.”

Recent issues with the professional football franchise The Washington Redskins could spell trouble for high school teams who share the name.

There has recently been renewed criticism of the Washington Redskins name being degrading towards those of Native American decent, an issue that has popped up numerous times in the past.

Earlier this month during a gathering at the Smithsonian, many voiced the opinion that the name Redskins is comparable with any racial slur.

Bruce Allen, the general manager of the franchise has been adamant in his defense of the name and said it’s ludicrous to suggest the franchise is trying to offend Native Americans, according to the Associated Press.

Residents of the area don’t seem to be worried about the ramifications of the criticism the Washington Redskins are facing.

“I don’t think that there has ever been any issue within the community regarding our name,” said Hill. “Generally issues like that come from complaints outside of the community.”

Even outside the Caldwell area, Hill said the teams are known and accepted as the Redskins.

“My track and cross country teams have become known as the running Redskins over the years,” he said. “As athletes you take a sense of pride and identity in the school and mascot you represent.”

Tyler Cordell, a 2010 graduate of Caldwell, played basketball, ran track and ran cross country during his time in school.

There was a brief moment in time that Cordell was uncertain that Caldwell would remain the Redskins.

“There weren’t any complaints about our name but the NCAA put some sanctions into place for certain colleges,” he said. “I just think our administration expected something similar to happen.”

These sanctions came in 2005 when the NCAA announced it would ban the use of Native American mascots and nicknames for post season tournaments, according to the Associated Press.

Certain teams, such as the Florida State Seminoles, were granted exceptions based on the level of support they have from Native American tribes.

So far no such sanctions have reached the high school level and the Caldwell Redskins seem to be safe for now.

“Terms like redskin and Indian were not names that we called ourselves,” said Noah Armstrong, sitting chief of the Native American Alliance of Ohio.

Armstrong, who is also chief of the Waterford-based People’s Nation, said he doesn’t see a problem with the name Caldwell Redskins.

“If a team were using a particular tribe name and portraying it negatively then that would be another issue,” said Armstrong. “But I don’t put much emphasis on terms like redskins because the Europeans called us that. We didn’t use that term for ourselves.”

Armstrong grew up in the Waterford area playing against the Caldwell Redskins in basketball, football and track. He said he has never had any issues with the name past or present.

He noted that most likely, Native Americans around this area don’t take offense to the term redskin, especially when it represents a mascot.

“Chances are the people that would consider raising a fuss about it might not even be a Native American,” he said.

It’s hard to imagine anyone feeling anything but pride at being a Caldwell Redskin, said Josh Perkins, physical education teacher and head coach for the football team at Caldwell.

Perkins has been the Caldwell football coach two separate times for a total of seven years. He has been a Redskin in some form or another for the past 38 years.

“I’ve been a Redskin as a student, community member, teacher and as a coach,” said Perkins. “I am and always will be a Redskin at heart before anything else.”

In his time in the area he hasn’t noticed any complaints about the name, he said.

“We try to teach our kids to be successful within the community, academics and athletics,” said Perkins. “If each of us can accomplish those things then we will be representing the Caldwell Redskins well.”

Perkins admitted that there is a saying he’s always remembered that demonstrates the pride he feels about the school and their mascot.

“It’s hard to be humble to be a Redskin,” he said.