What is a Warrior?

Mascots play an essential role in schools, providing a common image that students can unite under. In Weedsport we are lucky enough to have students who are proud to wear our school colors and represent our mascot, the Warrior. To many people in this school the warrior head is a symbol of strength and honor, despite the fact that few students are of Native American descent.

Unfortunately, the intention of our mascot has been questioned recently. Last year the Board of Education was contacted via e-mail by an individual named A. Telfair. The letter is as follows:

“I am writing because I disapprove of your Weedsport Warriors mascot. It is disrespectful and I find it ridiculous in 2012 that schools such as yours will not give up on appropriation of stereotypical images of Native Americans. I bet your schools do nothing to inform its students about the struggles of modern day Natives in America and I’m sure your students don’t know about the controversy surrounding such mascots. For your information, many Native American warriors in 2012 wear suits and carry brief cases instead of feathers. Your district needs to change the mascot.”

The general reaction among the people who read this letter was to be upset. How can Weedsport be anything but the Warriors?  The answer to that question is the name “Warriors” is not the issue and will not have to be changed. It is how the warrior is portrayed.  Some believe that the traditional Native American head is being misused in Weedsport. On the contrary, those of us who have represented our school, often times with that same warrior head on our jerseys, are appalled to think that we mean any disrespect to the people who once lived on the land our school now stands on.  “I don’t believe [the warrior head] is being used in an offensive way since it’s not a cartoon, and is drawn in an accurate way,” Varsity Football Coach Jon Sgarlata said. “When you think of Native Americans, you’re talking about people who are very proud and disciplined,” he added.

Our school has a lot of pride, not only in who we are, but who we were and where we came from. “We don’t give up. [Warriors] always keep fighting!” says freshman, Jeslyn Files. She is a member of the Varsity Field Hockey team, and is proud to step out onto the field wearing green and white.

“Other schools know who we are. They recognize us as the Warriors. They know that they can expect a fair game, but not an easy one,” three-sport-athlete, Abby Marsden remarks.

For some students, the warrior mascot is more than what is on the field. Quarterback of the Varsity Football Team, Hunter Bowden said, “My dad, his brothers and my grandfather are all alumni of Weedsport and I’m proud to carry on the tradition. I get to write my own chapter in the Warrior Book. When I play, I try to represent all the Warriors before me and when I see the warrior mascot, it tells me I’m home.”

With all the debate about something so important to the community, the Board of Education has decided to take action. They are organizing a committee to debate the issue, headed by Board president, Tim Lally. This committee will consist of students, staff, parents and community members. If you are interested in signing up, head to the district office by October 15. The members will meet throughout the fall in the evening. The committee will not be making the final decision, but will present their case to the Board who will have final say on the matter. If you have any questions, the district office can be reached at 834-6637.