COXSACKIE — With much fanfare, the Coxsackie-Athens school district unveiled its new mascot — the team is now called the Riverhawks.
The new name was displayed Friday night at the conclusion of the varsity football game.
“It was really nice. They waited until the end of the game and then a large banner was unfurled near the press box,” Board of Education President Michael Donahue said Monday.
District Superintendent Randall Squier and Athletics Director Curtis Wilkinson did a countdown and then did the big reveal.
“They unfurled the banner — a huge white banner with ‘Riverhawks’ written in blue,” Donahue said. “They had T-shirts that were tossed out to the crowd and people were scooping them up and then at the end, we had fireworks.”
Riverhawks was one of three final choices for the new mascot, along with Eagles and Bluejays. People in the community had the opportunity to vote in September.
Riverhawks was the top winner, receiving about 48% of the vote, board of education member and Rebranding Committee member Tara Bachner said at Thursday’s meeting of the Coxsackie-Athens Board of Education.
The committee did not reveal the name of the new mascot Thursday, but asked the board to decide on adopting the top vote-getter, with plans to do a big revelation Friday night at the football game.
“We had 1,508 people that voted,” Bachner said Thursday. “The top vote-getter had 48%.”
The option with the highest number of votes, revealed Friday night, was the Riverhawks, with the remaining votes evenly split between Eagles and Bluejays.
Six of the nine board members voted in favor of adopting the new mascot chosen by the community.
Board members Nicole Canning, Jamie Dorr and Bart Wallace abstained from the vote.
Canning, Dorr and Wallace were the three board members who voted against retiring the district’s longtime mascot name, the Indians, back in June.
“I abstained because I didn’t feel like it was right to vote on a new mascot when it wasn’t what I wanted originally,” Canning said at the conclusion of the board meeting.
Retiring the Indians mascot drew sharp opposition from some in the community who felt it was a part of the district’s heritage.
Others supported changing the team name, claiming the Indians name was offensive to Indigenous people.
Donahue said Monday he was pleased with the community’s choice of the Riverhawks as the new name.
“I like the selection,” Donahue said. “Coxsackie and Athens are river communities with beautiful parks right on the river and we have a lot of hawks, so it fits the community. It’s very apt.”
Squier said the choice was a positive one.
“It ties us in to the river, which is a huge part of this area’s history, so it brings us a good connection,” Squier said.
He said when the district was first centralized, in the 1940s, one of the choices of a name for the new district was Riverside, so the river concept is a part of the district’s heritage.
The new name will be phased in, in terms of changing uniforms, signage and the like.
“We will change uniforms when they are due,” Squier said Monday. “Some that are due to be replaced this year will have the change. The gym floors are on a multi-year cycle and will change when they are due. We might put a coat of paint over some areas, which is just the cost of the paint, and will be done during our regular schedule of maintenance.”
A river hawk, also known as an osprey, is a bird of prey.