Watching a high school volleyball game in 2019, newly arrived Pleasant Valley Secondary School principal Chelsea Prince was busy cheering on her Armstrong girls.
She hadn’t given any thought to what her new school’s team names were, but that changed when Prince heard Armstrong parents chanting ‘Go Sinners Go’ for the girls’ team.
“I talked to the vice-principal and was told that the team names were Saints for the boys, Sinners for the girls,” said Prince who has since undergone consultation with staff, students and the communities about possibly changing the school team’s sports name.
That will come to fruition after spring break.
“I have some concerns about the names,” said Prince. “No. 1, we are a public school and both names have religious overtones. No. 2, the boys are Saints, the girls are sinners. It’s offensive toward women.”
The history of the names is a little grey. Prince has talked to teachers who have been at Pleasant Valley Secondary School for years, and some who were students at the school and became teachers, and nobody knows where the names came from.
Longtime boy’s basketball coach Ross Shannon moved from downtown’s old Armstrong Junior Secondary to the newly built Pleasant Valley Secondary in September 1982, and he said the team names were already in place. Shannon also said there was always opposition from some community members to the name Sinners.
“There are lots of team names out there that, in their day, were not offensive,” said Prince. “But we’ve seen over the last year through the Black Lives Matter movement that some pro sports teams are changing their names because they were deemed racist (Washington Redskins of the NFL is now the Washington Football Team, and the Edmonton Eskimos of the CFL have dropped their nickname).
“These are changing times and there are changing attitudes.”
Over the past year, Prince has held consultation and brainstorming sessions with students over potential new names and logos. An artist was hired to draft a composite of the best ideas which has been narrowed to three:
- Leading the way is the PVSS Torch Bearers, which would feature a bear holding the school’s old torch logo;
- At No. 2 is Hawks, a tribute to the large number of hawks in the Armstrong area, led by the most common red-tail hawk, with Rose Swanson Mountain in the background;
- And the third idea for a new name is Mustangs, as the horse is very popular in Armstrong culture. The logo would feature a mustang with a flaming mane, holding a torch.
The winning name will be selected by Prince and vice-principal Patti Lemaire in late March, after kids return from spring break.
All school teams will have the same name, and all will incorporate the school’s familiar black, red and gold colours.
The new logo will be incorporated into a full gym floor replacement at PVSS which the North Okanagan-Shuswap School District board approved. The gym will also receive a new set of bleachers.