They didn’t ask me, obviously, but I would say the students at South Albany High School picked themselves a pretty good mascot and name for their various teams.
The name, “RedHawks,” was announced on Wednesday. This fall it will replace the “Rebels,” which the school has had since it started in 1971, and which was inspired by the idea of an identity separate from what had been Albany “Union” High School.
“We will become the South Albany RedHawks,” Principal Brent Belveal emailed me when I asked. (I need not have asked, for the Albany Democrat-Herald reported the new name just as I hit “send” on my inquiry to the school.)
RedHawks with an upper-case H in the middle? That’s it for now, Belveal told me. But like the artwork, provided so that students had a something visual as they chose a name, it is subject to revision. Designing the final imagery and lettering is the next task.
So what about redhawks? The closest we come in nature are the red-tailed hawks, which breed throughout North America and are common in the mid-valley. You can often see them sitting on the fence posts lining Interstate 5 from Albany south.
Those local hawks are not that red. Mostly they are brown, but the top of their tails has been described a “cinnamon red.”
In the material from the school about the name, hawks are praised as determined and aggressive and being relentless as predators. Relentless? Well, maybe they just want to eat, like the rest of us.
One big plus: No other Oregon high school uses that name. Across the country, though, we have, among others, the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, who have played baseball in North Dakota for 22 years. We also have the Miami RedHawks football team at Miami University in Ohio. And there are others.
If you go online and ask what it means when you see a hawk, the answer is interesting. The hawk is often a messenger from the divine, it says there at whatismyspiritanimal.com. “He signals a time in your life when you need to focus on what’s ahead and prepare for a leadership role… Just as the Hawk, you are ready to fly higher than ever before.”
For a high school and its students, could there be a more fitting inspiration than that? (hh)