GOSHEN, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana school district has retired its nearly 90-year-old Redskins nickname following action by the school board last year.
The Goshen school district’s change to the nickname RedHawks took effect Friday. It made its in-game debut Saturday during a Goshen High School girls’ basketball contest, and the team warmed up in shirts that said “RedHawk Rising.”
A pep rally to usher in the new mascot was held at the high school Monday, and a short program was held at Goshen Middle School. A student donning a headdress took one last lap around the high school gym during the pep rally.
Senior cheerleader Audrey Miller said she thought it was important to hold the pep rally after students returned from winter break.
“I think it definitely brought a lot of people closure because even up until last week I know people were still unsure of what was going on with the change and all of that,” Miller said. “Now we’re starting fresh.”
The school board voted in July to retire the Redskins nickname. It adopted the RedHawks moniker in November following a vote on four finalists by students and alumni who live in the district.
District staff replaced most references to the Redskins during winter break, but some work remains on the football and baseball fields. The basketball court no longer reads “Redskins,” and a gym wall that bore the words “Redskin Country” now says “RedHawk Country.”
Athletic director Larry Kissinger estimates that it will cost about $38,000 to replace signs, equipment and uniforms with the Redskins name or image. He said the district is looking into offsetting those costs, including selling old Redskins gear to the public.
An open house meant to celebrate the Redskins nickname is scheduled for February. A wooden statue of a Native American chief, which administrators tried to remove in 2013, is being stored until the school can find a permanent home.
“We’re not getting rid of any tradition,” Kissinger said. “We want to display the statue and our history proudly.”