Maine’s high school sports teams provide splashes of local color.
From Shipbuilders to Shiretowners, high school team names provide a crash course in Maine culture. Houlton High picked the latter name because Houlton is the county seat — or shire town — of Aroostook County. Morse High in Bath chose Shipbuilders for obvious reasons. Other team names are similarly revealing: Old Orchard Beach High has its Seagulls; Camden Hills Regional its Windjammers. Falmouth High’s team name, the Yachtsmen, comes across as a not-so-humble brag that could fire up the opposing team. (We wouldn’t like their odds against the Lumberjacks of Hebron Academy.) Carrabassett Valley Academy’s name, Big Dogs, is equally boastful, yet is in keeping with the school’s X Games vibe.
No high school team in Maine is named after moose or lobsters. But there are Coyotes (Old Town High), Raccoons (Oak Hill High) — even Pandas. Lee Academy has a high percentage of students from China and has established several satellite schools in Asia, so the Panda mascot is a nice fit — albeit by pure coincidence. A student named Chuck Boutot drew the winning entry in a Name the Mascot contest in 1946, long before the Asian exchange began. “But it’s worked out very well for us,” says Deborah Jacobs, the school’s director of admissions.
Names that require less drilling down include the Penobscot Valley Howlers (they’re from Howland) and the Capers of Cape Elizabeth. In Auburn, the Red Eddies are named after Edward Little High’s founder (his ghost is the mascot). Westbrook High (Blue Blaze) and South Portland (Red Riot) prefer a more Impressionistic use of color.
Finally, in a class by themselves, with a team name that is both a head-turner and -scratcher, are the Witches of Brewer High. There’s got to be a good story there — but no one knows what it is. Dan O’Connell, a former BHS assistant principal and basketball coach, went on a Witch hunt years ago because so many opponents asked about the name. He came up empty. Early yearbooks revealed that the school’s teams had no mascot at first. For a brief period they were called the Tigers. “Then,” says O’Connell, “in the mid ’30s, all of a sudden the Witches showed up.”
They’ve never left. And O’Connell is glad of that. “We’re proud of our Witches,” he says of Brewer’s distinctive school spirit.