Hail To The Wreckers

Once again, Staples High School’s sports teams had a banner fall.

Field hockey — with another FCIAC championship trophy in hand — shoots for a remarkable 4th straight championship this Saturday. They face archrival Darien at Wethersfield High School, at 2 p.m.

Julia DiConza, Staples field hockey player. (Photo courtesy of John Nash for The Ruden Report)

Girls soccer — straight off its own FCIAC title — lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to Glastonbury on Tuesday, in the state semifinals. It was the only defeat of the year for the Wreckers, and only the 8th goal scored on them all year.

Boys cross country capped off its astonishing dual meet season — they’re now at 110 consecutive victories — with their 4th straight FCIAC crown. The runners then placed 2nd at the state LL (extra large schools) meet, 5th in the state open, and 6th at the New England championship.

Boys soccer stunned Glastonbury — top-ranked, two-time defending Connecticut champs, unscored on in state tournament play since 2016 — with 2 goals in the final 7 minutes to win 3-2, then tied Trumbull in the last 6 minutes before falling on penalty kicks in the state quarterfinals.

The girls swim and dive team placed 3rd in the state LL tournament.

Girls cross country and volleyball, and boys water polo, all had successful seasons too. Football battled adversity all year long, and looks to finish strongly on Thanksgiving Day against Greenwich.

Congratulations to all the Wrecker teams.

That’s right: They’re Wreckers.

Not Wreckers and “Lady Wreckers.”

That antiquated name still hangs around, even in 2019.

Despite 47 years of Title IX.

And even though it makes no sense.

What is a “Lady Wrecker”? We don’t call the boys teams “Gentleman Wreckers.”

“Lady Wreckers” is condescending. It’s demeaning. It’s wrong.

Most media outlets realize how strong and powerful female athletes are. They know girls train and compete as hard as boys. They’ve gotten rid of “Lady” Wreckers, just as the athletic world has tossed out hoop skirts for basketball players, and added girls to rosters in sports like football and wrestling.

But the term still pops up, from time to time. It’s even on a mural in the hallway near the girls’ locker room. It’s time to retire it, forever.

The “Lady Wreckers” mural, in the hallway outside the girls’ locker room.

Meanwhile, I hear you asking: What exactly is a “Wrecker”?

The nickname dates to the 1930s. In the last game of the year, the team played undefeated Norwalk High. Staples won — “wrecking” their season.

Some people don’t like it.

I do. There’s only one other Staples High School in America — it’s actually called Staples-Motley, and it’s in north-central Minnesota* — but I’m pretty positive there is no other team in the world named the Wreckers.

The problem comes with a mascot. What is a Wrecker? A tow truck? How un-Westport-y

Instead, decades ago, Tom Wall– a Staples grad who was coaching part-time — created a fierce-looking guy, in a hard hat. In later versions he carried a crowbar and hammer.

The mascot was painted on the gym floor, plastered on walls and decals, and even showed up as a foam rubber mask worn by a student at football games. (He left out in the rain one day, and it turned into a gloppy mess.)

The Staples Wrecker, by the door to the fitness center.

Recently, Inklings — the Staples newspaper — ran a pair of opinion pieces. The topic: “Should the Wreckers’ Mascot Be Gender-Neutral?”

Rachel Suggs argued yes. A male mascot excludes females, she wrote. She noted that professional sports teams like the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves are modifying their branding to be more inclusive, adding that only 6 other FCIAC teams have mascots with a male image.

No, countered Remy Teltser. The mascot is our tradition — and a caricature — she said. As a female athlete, she never perceived the Wrecker negatively. In fact, she added, some girls teams embrace the term “Lady Wreckers.”

If you think Remy’s opinion is an outlier in this era of equal rights, think again. 450 students responded to an Inklings survey about changing to a gender-neutral logo.

18% voted to switch. 82% said to keep it.

This is not the first time the question has come up. Every so often, someone suggests going back to the informal nickname of the team, one used before “Wreckers” and occasionally since then.

In a nod to our town symbol and historic past, Staples could be called the Minutemen.

Or, if you prefer, Minutepeople.

*The Staples-Motley teams are the Cardinals. Bor-ing.

9 responses to “Hail To The Wreckers

  1. Charles Taylor

    Wreckers for ever! Gender neutral. Paint over the lady part! We are all Wreckers when we represent Staples! I think the only women’s team in Staples in my day 1958-61 was the great field hockey team!
    We are called the Staples Wreckers for the wrecking that we do !

  2. Congrats to ALL the Wreckers!
    Indeed, by all I also say congrats to another Wrecker team that had a great season and an amazing team spirit! Staples Boys Water Polo team!!
    Go Wreckers!

  3. Steven C Reynolds

    What’s wrong with the genderless tow truck? The male crowbar-weilding hard hat mascot doesn’t represent a town with little or no manufacturing industry let alone any female athlete. Seeing a tow truck drive along the football field during a game is a unique, funny, daring and creative reminder that Westporters need the gritty reality the tow truck represents in order to get through a car breakdown and a tough game.

    • Around Philadelphia at least, two trucks are also called “hookers.” Probably ought to avoid the truck.

  4. Love the Hookers. [baaaad idea, however]
    Wrecking Crew?
    And congratulations to all Staples’ Fall teams. Bravo!

  5. Hate “Lady Wreckers” and don’t hear it said alot – except for the media frankly! I’ve been to plenty of female sporting events at SHS and it’s never announced as “Lady Wreckers. The female athletes I’ve seen at SHS are as competitive, fiesty, and dedicated as the males for sure.
    Keep the logo – it’s awesome and unique. Let’s not fix a “problem” that exists in the minds of the small minority (as the survey data shared would indicate).
    Go Wreckers!!!!!!!!!

  6. Percival Olmstead

    Unless they have a kid on a team, adults that care about and follow high school sports are strange. Like…don’t you have something better to do with your time?

    There, I said it…

    • I disagree. I think it’s a lot healthier to cheer for the kids in your community — your neighbors, the ones in your church or synagogue, the guys and girls who babysat for your own kids — than driving all the way to another city, paying big bucks, and cheering for overpaid, over-indulged people you don’t even know and who don’t care about you, because they supposedly represent your “city” or “area.” That’s the strange thing to me.