Port Townsend teams ready to play under new Redhawks mascot
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Port Townsend High School football player Wesley Wheeler, left, wears a new football jersey while Chris Adkins, right, wears the Redhawks basketball jersey he purchased online in anticipation of this year’s season. The players are speaking with Vice Principal and Athletic Director Scott Wilson.
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Port Townsend High School alumna Joanne Gilles sells Redskins gear during last month’s Jefferson County Fair.
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Athletic Director Scott Wilson says that students have “moved on” from the Redskins controversy at Port Townsend High School.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — On the eve of the first football game for the newly christened Port Townsend High School Redhawks, the controversy about the name it replaced is all but forgotten, according to the school's athletic director.

“I don't even mention the name of the old mascot. To bring it up only stirs the pot,” said Scott Wilson, who is also the school's new vice principal.

“I think the kids were ready to let it all go last December,” he said.

“It just took the parents and the adults a little longer.”

The Port Townsend Redhawks face the Port Angeles Roughriders for the first varsity football game between the two schools in 47 years at 7 p.m. today at Civic Field in Port Angeles.

Redhawks replaces Redskins, the 88-year-old mascot that was determined to be racist and offensive to Native Americans. The name change faced opposition from some alumni.

After a two-year process, the Redhawks mascot was adopted for this school year following one year of committee meetings to determine whether to change the name and another year to choose the replacement.

“We had all last year to work out the issues,” Wilson said.

“We had some kids who had some concerns about it in the beginning, but the more we talked about moving forward, the general comments from kids are, 'Hey, we're Redhawks now, and we're moving on.'”

Wilson said students have accepted the changes, wearing new gear and adopting new cheers.

“Kids are embracing it, moving forward, and I couldn't be more proud of these kids,” Wilson said.

“It's different, it's something new,” said football team member Wesley Wheeler, a 17-year-old junior.

“But I think it's good for the community.”

Wilson estimated that about $90,000 was spent for new uniforms and gear.

The refinishing of the gym floor was $25,000, an amount covered by a donation from the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe meant to offset the cost of the change.

New uniforms were required for wrestling, volleyball and cheerleaders. Football and basketball uniforms did not need replacement because “Redskins” was not part of the uniform.

New warmup gear and helmets were necessary for football, Wilson said.

Bleachers with the Redhawks logo will be installed later this month at a cost of $83,000.

They needed to be replaced anyway as they were not compatible with the Americans With Disabilities Act, according to facilities manager Brad Taylor.

The season opener for each school will serve as the 79th game all-time between the two-largest cities on the North Olympic Peninsula.

The Roughriders have won 44 games in the series. The number of Redhawks victories and ties in the series is not known.

Tickets are $6 for adults and students without ASB cards, $4 for visiting middle school and elementary students, and $2 for those 60 and older.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: September 04. 2014 7:55PM
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