Have you ever seen a Hodag? Have you ever dug for Granite? Have you ever visited Old Abe at the state Capitol? Do you know what a Troller is? These and other Wisconsin high school mascots are the subject of a new book by Carlo Kumpula, a retired teacher and coach from Spooner.
“Wisconsin’s Mighty Mascots” includes stories and images along with reading comprehension questions, word find puzzles, mazes, matching activities, a crossword puzzle, a map activity, and a creative activity where kids can design their own mascot.
“I designed it as an activity book for grades 4-8, but adults and older kids have been enjoying it as well,” Kumpula says.
“With schools having to adjust to COVID-19, I’m hoping this book will help to fill a need,” he added. “Teachers, including parents who have to do some teaching at home, have permission to make copies of activities from the book. It’s another tool for learning about the geography and history of Wisconsin.”
Kumpula said the book has always been in his mind. “Growing up as a Mellen Granite Digger and competing against the Castle Guards, Trollers, Oredockers, and others; I’ve always been fascinated by unique mascots.”
“About thirty years ago I developed a geography/history lesson using mascots from around the country. Through my involvement in the Wisconsin Geographic Alliance I presented it at teacher workshops around the state as well as at the National Council for Geographic Education in Portland, Oregon in 2011 and at the National Council for the Social Studies in St. Louis in 2013. People would often ask, ‘When will you write a book?’ Well, here it is.”
The Amery Warriors are one of 15 Wisconsin schools who are called the Warriors. Other schools who are proud to call themselves Warriors include the schools of Black Hawk, Clear Lake, Eastbrook Academy, Lakeside Luthrean, Muskego, Neillsville, Ozaukee, Portage, Rice Lake, Valley Christian, Waunakee, Waupun, Wausau West and Winter.
The original Warrior mascot was implemented in 1904. The Amery School District received a request from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) in April of 1994 regarding mascots. The district decided to drop the Native American logo that represented the Warriors, allowing the student council to do research on the nickname. In November of 1994, members of the student council informed the Board that 955 students were in favor of keeping the Warrior nickname, 276 were in favor of adopting a different nickname. It was decided by the Student Council that a contest would be held to design a symbol to accompany the Warrior nickname.
In January of 1995, the school board approved the student council’s recommendation to adopt the winning entry in the logo contest,which was designed by Kim Mortensen. It was trademarked in April of 2005.
Amery Superintendent Steve Schiell said the district probably made the change because “the community felt it was the right thing to do.”
In January 2018, School Board member Chelsea Whitley proposed breathing new life into a Warrior mascot.
Whitley said, “There are a lot of schools and colleges that have mascots and they are politically correct. I think it would bring a lot of school spirit if we created some type of committee. Coaches, public and students should all be involved,” she suggested, adding, “Mascots add personality, they’re a powerful marketing tool. They make people happy at games and get the crowd engaged, and can give us a competitive edge on social media.”
Later that year it was decided to use the shield that had been implemented in 1996 along with a new AW symbol.
Regardless of what symbol sits alongside the name Warrior, many alumni agree that being a Warrior is more about a feeling than a symbol.
Carrie Haugerud graduated from AHS in 1988. She played volleyball, basketball and softball. She said being a Warrior taught her not only to have pride in herself, but also to have pride in an institution she loved.”I believe being a Warrior groomed me for the real world. I never give up even after a loss, I pick myself up, dust myself off and try again. That is what being a Warrior is,” she said.
Michael Karuschak III was a 1996 grad of AHS who played hockey and golf. He said being a Warrior is like being a part of a family.
Marjean (Christensen) Rowan graduated in 1973 as a Clear Lake Warrior. She played volleyball, basketball and participated in track and field. She said, “Girl’s sports in the early 70’s were just getting started, so to me, being a Warrior meant being a trailblazer.”
Wisconsin’s Mighty Mascots is Kumpula’s second book. His first, “When All Roads Led to Spooner,” chronicles the history of the sectional basketball tournament held annually from 1943-1971 when all schools, regardless of enrollment, competed in a single class.