By Bill Sniffin
Nicknames and mascots for schools in Evanston, Jackson, Gillette, Greybull and other places in the state provided some funny stories as a result of a recent column about school names.
Lex Cornia says that Red Devils is an old railroad term for sparks that would fly out of the engine to the coal car. Thus, the sports teams in the long-time railroad town, Evanston, go by that nickname.
Gillette goes by the name Camels and one local legend says that the petrified bones of a camel were found during the excavation of a building back in 1938, which helped give them their high school mascot.
Most folks assume it is Camel because you pronounce their county name of Campbell as “camel,” occasionally.
Tom Lubnau shares this story about playing for the Camels back in the day:
“I played on the second worst football team in Gillette history. One game, against one of the big schools from Casper, the line coach came into the halftime locker room. He gave us a pep talk to go out and rally so we would not continue to get killed on the football field.
He said: “You are better than this. You are tough. You can compete. You ARE Camels! Go out there and [pregnant pause] spit on them! It was at that point I knew the joy of having a camel as a mascot.”
A fellow named Wesley Kempton wrote in a 2014 blog that the new high school in Gillette should use Frackers as their mascot.
So what does a borough of New York City have to do with Jackson Hole?
Centuries ago, a part of the future New York City was settled by Dutch folks named Bronck. Ultimately that place became known as the Bronx.
When Brad Mead was playing for the Jackson Broncs, they ordered new uniforms from some outfit back east. The Jackson team ended up playing the entire season as the Jackson Bronx.
Julia Stuble writes: “I always felt out of place as a Green River Wolf. Today, we think of wolves as mountain animals, though the pioneers trekking across Wyoming’s plains in the 19th century identified them as scavengers of those unfortunate folks who didn’t survive the perils of wagon train or handcart travel.
“I doubt the school district was making a political commentary about wolf re-introduction or re-placing the wolf as a predator of our sage hills. Anyway, I always thought the Green River mascot should be the Engineers, or the Calciners (after the equipment that processes trona), or maybe the Brakemen and Brakewomen. Mascots should strive for gender neutrality.
“To be kind, today it would be fitting to call the Rock Springs players ‘Roustabouts’ after that essential, doughty and resourceful oil and gas field contractor. I really wanted to be a Calciner—it would have made my dad proud.”
The Greybull Junior High team was known as the Dinosaurs. From a former Greybull Dinosaurs cheerleader Diana Schutte Dowling: “Rumor was they changed our mascot name when none of us dinosaurs could any longer spell it – long after my time. Don’t remember what they changed it to, but come to think of it the Junior High is no more either, now that we have middle schools. The students of which will never be able to read cursive!
“Oh my gosh. After 55 years the Junior High Fight Cheer going through my head, at least the first couple of lines:
The Dinosaurs are hard to beat; they’re just a 100 per from head to feet!
Jim Hicks reported the following: “Some 50 years ago Buffalo and Gillette were about the same size and had a good ongoing rivalry. The late Duane Waggoner was quick on his feet and managed to steal the ball from opposing players with some degree of regularity. In one game he made two steals but got turned around and drove for perfect lay-ups.
“Problem was that both times he scored at the wrong end of the court, hence the nick-name Wrong Way Waggoner stuck for quite a while.”
Retired UW professor Ken Smith is a former Green River publisher and writes about a conversation he had with fellow prof Eric Wiltsie while driving through Rock Springs around the year 2000: “Eric and I had this discussion a number of years ago when driving through Rock Springs. We questioned why Rock Springs would call themselves the Tigers, not exactly local beasts. Eric thought they should be called the Doublewides.”