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Will Cappy return?

CCA launches search for an official mascot

OXFORD– Cappy might be coming back to Clear Creek Amana (CCA).
Cappy is the blue suited, silver bearded sea captain who showed up on a banner on the outfield fence of the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) baseball diamond in Tiffin in 2013, and on hats and uniforms of the players as an unofficial team mascot.
Not everybody was happy to see Cappy, however, and with clothing orders opening for the 2014 season, Coach Brent Henry appeared before the CCA school board of directors to seek formal permission to continue using the logo and to clear up misconceptions about its use. At the time, the district had no formal policy regarding logos.
“All we were trying to do was add to the Clipper name,” Henry told the Board in 2014. “We do certainly take pride in the ‘Clippers’ name,” the coach stressed to the board, adding when he took the helm of the program, the players and he came up with the phrase “Captaining the ship,” and Cappy was born to embody the concept and a new direction for the program.
Henry added, “Players and the community loved it.”
Some other CCA teams also took a shine to the new mascot and employed him on some of their sports apparel as well.
“That was not our intent,” he said. “Originally it was just a symbol for our baseball team, but the students at the high school liked it so much and other coaches liked it so much, they started to adopt it, too.”
Since then, Communications Director Laurie Haman produced and implemented a branding program, which includes an athletic logo and a more formal academic logo. Haman sent Cappy away in 2017 after realizing a potential trademark infringement existed as the unofficial mascot bore a striking similarity to a college’s mascot, but with different colors.
Now, a search for an official districtwide CCA mascot is on.
Michelle Staudt, leader of CCA’s Dance Team, and Jamie Wilcoxon, coach for the cheerleaders, approached the district’s school board of directors Wednesday, Aug. 21, to seek approval for the design and procurement of a mascot.
The pair is combining the dance team and cheerleaders into a spirit squad, something both noticed are common at high school and collegiate athletic events, which help boost school spirit and rally the student sections in support of the team. They also have a mascot.
“Someone that goes out there and helps pep up energy, a comedian in a good way, has fun with the crowd, and gets the crowd involved,” Staudt said. But, CCA’s Clipper Ship isn’t the user-friendliest mascot.
“We love our logo,” Staudt said. “But you can’t really put someone in a ship costume and interact with our crowd. I want to say, we are not trying to get rid of the Clipper Ship whatsoever. We are not going to do anything to harm the ship.”
What they would like to do, she explained, is develop an entity to complement the ship.
“Maybe somebody who can ride in the Ship,” she said. “Maybe a Captain, something like that.”
She gave the example of Iowa State University, the Cyclones.
“You don’t have somebody dressed up as a tornado running around, they have Cy (a red and yellow bird). Or the Purdue Boilermakers, they don’t have someone as a train, they have ‘Purdue Pete.’ And that’s the direction we want to go.”
A mascot is not some random creature, she added, but something both symbolic and representative of the district as a whole. The Clipper Ship itself, she said, gives them a lot of leeway to be creative.
Between the two of them, Staudt said, a plethora of ideas bounced back and forth. And after asking for mascot pics on their personal Facebook pages, even more ideas sprang forth from districts such as Linn-Mar and Maquoketa Valley.
“All of the area schools have someone that can interact with their student section and the crowd, and get out to the elementary schools,” she said. “There are other schools our size that have mascots. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see this Clipper mascot taking pictures with fourth and fifth graders at Oak Hill’s inaugural field day next spring? Or giving high-fives to kids, and taking pictures at graduation?”
It’s all about incorporating school spirit into as many activities as possible.
The pair proposed a districtwide drawing contest involving all students during Homecoming Week to come up with an idea for a mascot. Each school would select a few from the many with the board further narrowing down the possibilities ahead of a vote by all students and staff for the final design and name. If all goes as planned, the new mascot would make its debut during a districtwide pep rally sometime next spring.
Rough cost estimates varied from $4,500 to $6,200 for “the best of the best” with a 13-week minimum from time of order to delivery of the final costume. In addition to selecting a mascot and designing the costume, high school students need to be selected to take on the role and wear the outfit. Being a mascot, Staudt said, involves much more than just putting on a suit. There is training involved, and Gregg Niemiec, the handler for the U of I’s Herky, said he is willing to help with both selection and training. A “security team,” students who would escort the mascot, and keep him or her from walking into a wall, would also be selected and trained.
The pair proposed involving the students in offsetting the costs.
“We want the students to own the mascot,” Staudt said.
A student penny drive was proposed along with soliciting local sponsors and encouraging student efforts to fundraise for the mascot.
“We don’t just want to ask the booster club for the money,” she said.
By having the students invest in the project, school spirit would be increased as well, she added.
Superintendent Tim Kuehl recommended having the Spirit Squad narrow the designs from all buildings to 10 for the board to review.
The board would then send five out for districtwide voting by the students and staff. He suggested a timeline with the board reviewing the submissions at its October meeting, the student and staff vote taking place in October, and the board approving the final design during their November meeting. The process would presumably lead to having the costume on-site in February.
A motion was made and seconded to approve the process for a CCA mascot with unanimous ayes.
“Our ultimate goal is to get the school district involved in one unified CCA school spirit,” Staudt said. “That’s not just Amana Elementary or North Bend or the high school. We are all Clippers. We are all CCA.”