Whether the “Redskins” moniker should have stayed or gone will probably always be a controversial topic among those connected to Cooperstown Central School. However, taking Deerslayers out of the running for a possible choice as a new school nickname was the right choice.
In the beginning of the process of contemplating a name change, Superintendent C.J. Hebert said the district has made significant efforts to recognize cultural changes and diversity and the “Redskins” nickname no longer coincided with those efforts.
Board of Education President David Borgstrom said: “It has troubled me for some time that we recognize the importance of this education, make a commitment to it, and espouse a need for cultural sensitivity, while supporting a school nickname that is the antithesis of this philosophy. What would be the board of education’s response if ever asked to justify our commitment to cultural sensitivity education and the nickname ‘Redskins’?”
Borgstrom said the goal was to narrow suggestions down to options that would represent the school “appropriately.”
“I think we need to take whatever time necessary to prepare for deliberation to make sure any options that would come forward would be appropriate to the best we can consider in both the short term and the long term with any potential ramifications of any human being,” he stated.
We think school officials did right by giving the name Deerslayers the boot, despite it being one of five leading vote-getters in a previous student survey taken in February. The name seems a bit over the top, painting quite a vivid picture and could have been as bad if not worse than “Redskins.”
It was also good to see that the nickname Huskies was added to the list of choices. It was not on the previous short list of five names, but replaced Wolves as a final option because of local groundswell in its favor. Huskies was the nickname used in Hartwick before the merging of Cooperstown and Hartwick schools.
The other options included Hawkeyes, Pioneers and Pathfinders. Hawkeyes, Pioneers and Pathfinders come from James Fenimore Cooper’s five-novel Leatherstocking Tales, two of which are titled “The Pathfinders” and “The Pioneers.”
For or against changing the nickname, at least all of the choices have local and historical connections.
The only one that might not make sense to use is Hawkeyes. That is the name the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League team that plays in Cooperstown. Although the team has indicated to CCS board members that they would share the nickname as long as it was marketed differently, it could get confusing.
According to school officials, the name “Redskins” dates to the mid-1920s. The decision to retire the name, effective June 30, was made at a school board meeting in March by a 6-1 vote. Anthony Scalici voted against changing the nickname. The board also voted unanimously to honor all history previous to June 30 as being for the Cooperstown Redskins.
Designation of a new nickname was on the agenda of Wednesday’s board meeting, but it had not been completed by deadline. We will keep people informed as soon as we can on our website, coopercrier.com, and will have a more detailed article in next week’s Crier. Until then, we hope to get our readers’ opinions through letters to the editor that we can share.
Letters can be sent to email@example.com.