Mighty Mascots

Wisconsin’s Mighty Mascots book cover.

Lions, Tigers and Bears aren’t for everyone when it comes to mascots for high school in Wisconsin. 

That’s one of the themes explored in Carlo Kumpula’s new book, “Wisconsin’s Mighty Mascots”. 

Kumpula is a retired World Geography teacher and basketball coach from Spooner. As a career member of the Wisconsin Geographic Alliance, he combined his love of geography, history, and sports into a lesson plan about school mascots from around the United States. The book is an extension of the plan, he said. 

Kumpula said the book was initially geared for middle school students, but those older are falling in love with it as well. The book is filled with stories, comprehension questions, word find puzzles, mazes and map activities. 

Kumpula gave a sampling of the mascots unique to their area in Wisconsin.

Rhinelander Hodags: During the late 1800s, a fearsome beast roamed the north words. Not sure what it was, it was called the Hodag and captured by Eugene Shepard in 1896. As Kumpula stated, scientists from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., would be coming to the area to study the creature. Shepard then admitted the Hodag was a hoax. Nonetheless, it helped make Rhinelander famous and there are many throughout the town. 

Butternut Midgets: In the 1920’s Butternut was the home of Charles “Midget” Fischer, who stood 5-foot-3 inches tall, weighed 158 pounds and was a world champion wrestler, being the first to be top-ranked in both the middle and light-heavyweight classes. The school named their teams after him. 

Ashland Oredockers: Ashland was the closest port when iron ore was discovered in the Gogebic Range of northern Wisconsin and Michigan. Trains carried ore from the mines near Hurley and Ironwood to the giant docks in Ashland. The ore then slid down chutes into waiting ore carriers bound for steels mills on the lower Great Lakes. 

There’s more such as the Shullsburg Miners, Spooner Rails and the Horicon Marshmen. 

Kumpula also gave some other interesting facts: There are more Minnesota high schools (Austin and South St. Paul), which use the nickname Packers than in Wisconsin (Cudahy). At the same time, more Wisconsin high schools have used the nicknames Vikings than Minnesota. 

Kumpula was asked about Native American mascots in the state. He said in the past, the Milton Redmen became the Red Hawks, the Menomonie Indians became the Mustangs, the Kewaunee Indians are now the Storm and Osseo-Fairchild is the Thunder after becoming the Chieftains. 

“I believe that most schools (if not forced to change) would keep their current mascots,” he opined. That rationale, he said, is alumni would be happier and it would be expensive to rebrand (signage, uniforms and more). 


For more information or to order, go to kumpulabooks.com 


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