The Falmouth school system has decided to get rid of a mascot that some saw as gender-biased, others viewed as elitist, and most of all was basically ignored in recent years.

So long Yachtsmen. Time to sail away.

“This is my fifth year here,” as athletic director, said James Coffey, “and to be honest, there was never a whole lot of pride within the school for the nickname. It’s not really visible anywhere. It’s not on uniforms.

“I feel like a lot of students are very indifferent about it,” Coffey said.

Which is exactly what student surveys conducted by the middle and high school Civil Rights Teams discovered, said Ashley Pullen, the co-advisor for the high school group as well as Falmouth’s varsity girls’ lacrosse coach.

“The general takeaway from both buildings was that about two-thirds of the students either disliked the nickname and had feelings of it being exclusive, or were indifferent to it,” Pullen said. “The results from the community survey were similar.”

Falmouth’s school board voted unanimously on Monday night to retire the nickname, which seems to have originated in a Portland Press Herald sports story in 1948. By 1950, Yachtsmen appeared in the school yearbook.

“It was kind of haphazardly given to us by a sportswriter and there was no real intention behind it,” Pullen said, noting that as a girls’ coach, “I’m not going to have them cheer, ‘Go Yachtsmen,’ and to be Lady Yachtsmen is ridiculous.”

The mascot is also portrayed as a white man in the form of the now seldom seen costumed character named Yachtie, who had a black beard, a sailor’s hat, and a menacing scowl.

Coffey said the costume is still in a storage closet but “he hasn’t been worn in a good two years anyway. Nobody would wear it.”

To Coffey, that spoke of the school’s indifference, if not dislike, for their nickname, which promoted a perception that Falmouth is full of rich white people who own yachts. In addition, none of the school’s current uniforms include the word Yachtsmen.

“Certainly we have other equity-related work to do as a district, the mascot is a teeny, tiny piece of that,” Pullen said. “But it is a concrete starting point of putting the image out there that we are a more inclusive district, or at least not an antiquated, exclusive mascot.”

The school does intend to keep its ship’s wheel logo and the blue and gold colors. Those qualities, along with the “Go Falmouth” chant surveyed favorably, Pullen and Coffey said.

Coffey will chair a committee to determine a new mascot name that will incorporate the wheel logo, hopefully in time for the 2021-22 school year.


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