On June 14, the DSF community began the process of renaming the school’s mascot with an email from Freeman principal John Marshall. Four months later, on Oct. 14, the school took a major step forward in this process. With a post on Schoology, Mr. Marshall announced the shortlist of names to replace the rebel mascot. The shortlist consists of four names: Mavericks, Pioneers, Trailblazers, and United.
The VCU Brandcenter, who is helping the school rebrand the mascot, relied heavily on the community’s voice in developing these mascot names. Through this process, the Brandcenter identified some traits that they want to embody in the new mascot such as “family, pride, excellence, and intensity.” The Brandcenter created three “buckets” or goals that helped them pick a new name. These buckets were made to represent three different paths that the team took to help them choose the names. The first bucket was to “repurpose the rebel” where the team attempted to select a name that represents many of the same ideals as the rebel, but not carry the same Confederate connotations. The second bucket was to “speak to history & tradition” where the team tried to select names that reference the history of the community. Finally, the third bucket was to “celebrate the collective” where the team sought to pick a name to represent the sense of family at DSF.
The first name listed was Mavericks. This was chosen through the first bucket of “repurposing the rebel” and attempts to represent the Freeman spirit of going against the status quo and striving for excellence. “I think Mavericks is the best because it has a similar meaning to Rebels, but without the bad connotation. And, it has the best ring to it,” freshman Walker Bristow said.
The second name listed was Pioneers, which was chosen out of the “speak to history & tradition” bucket. This was chosen to represent the spirit of exploration and independence at Freeman. “I originally voted for Pioneers because it was the most normal and because Pioneers stick together like a family, which is what Freeman is all about,” junior Niamh Preis said.
The third name, and the second out of the “speak to history & tradition” bucket is Trailblazers, which encompasses many of the same values as the Pioneers name. This name tries to speak to the history of the community since Freeman is located on Three Chopt Road, which was named for a Native American trail marked by three notches in the trees along the trail. Sophomore Will Kurz said that his “favorite name choice is Trailblazers.” This nickname’s meaning of “thinking differently and creative leadership represents our school in a very fitting, satisfying way,” said Will.
The final name, out of the “celebrate the collective” bucket was United. This name was selected to celebrate the sense of family and diversity among the Freeman student body. “I like United because I think it’s a good change, and it will give off the right impression,” sophomore Ellie Roberts said.
A few names that had been considered, but were not ultimately selected to be included on the shortlist were names such as Phoenix, Family, Falcons, and Pride. While some students are happy with the shortlist of names, others have expressed disappointment with these options. “Personally, I don’t particularly love any of the names the school has chosen,” said junior Morgan Louria. “I feel they don’t fully represent us as what we stand for as a school, and I would have liked some more options,” she said.
But, it doesn’t seem like these students’ wishes will come true. “The shortlist is final,” said Mr. Marshall, meaning that names that are not currently on the list will not be considered. He also acknowledged that not everyone can be happy and that is okay. “Anytime we try and make one decision for 2000 individuals, there’s going to be a level of disappointment, but I hope that at the end of the day we can rally around it,” said Mr. Marshall.
Currently, Mr. Marshall and the school hope to unveil the new mascot name and logo around the second week of November. At this time, all students can complete the form linked in Mr. Marshall’s Schoology post announcing the shortlist in order to make their voices heard on the new mascot.