Archival Corner: Mascot Naming Contest of 1932

Perhaps you have seen the marketing line that Western Reserve Academy has used over the past couple of years: “What will you Pioneer?” And hopefully you read the Reserve Record piece entitled “Re-‘Pete’ History: The Pioneer Pete Situation” that appeared in the last edition. This story was born out of contemplation of both.

The recent Reserve Record article mistakenly claimed that “Pioneer Pete has represented WRA for nearly two centuries.” In fact, the Pioneer nickname was the result of a contest conducted by the Reserve Record staff in the fall of 1932. The first interscholastic sporting event took place in the 1890s—a victory over University School on the baseball diamond. Imagine attending the game and cheering on your team without being able to refer to them as Pios, ‘Neers or the now-official Pioneers. This was true for fans of WRA sports teams for nearly half a century!

Sam Kipp (class of 1935) and John Richey (1936) together offered the idea of Pioneers as the school mascot. In recognition of this contest-winning submission, then-Headmaster Joel B. Hayden remarked, “What is more appropriate than the name of ‘Pioneers’? Blazers of new trails, they pursue the horizon.”

The one-time idea of Sam Kipp and John Richey—possibly concocted over lunch in the Ellsworth dining hall or during Study Hours in North Hall—has served this institution for nearly ninety years. What ideas might you have, with the potential of such an enduring legacy …?

Mr. Hoffman

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