High School Sports

See ya, Stallions! Frederick Douglass’ new nickname is ...

After months of debate, Douglass students select new mascot

Frederick Douglass first announced its mascot to be the Stallions, which drew controversy. On the first day of school, Lexington's newest high school allowed the students to vote on the replacement.
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Frederick Douglass first announced its mascot to be the Stallions, which drew controversy. On the first day of school, Lexington's newest high school allowed the students to vote on the replacement.

Seven months after unveiling its school colors and mascot imagery, Frederick Douglass High School finally has a nickname for its athletics teams: Broncos.

Douglass students selected “Broncos” on Wednesday, the first day school was in session for Fayette County. Fifty-nine percent of the more than 892 ballots cast using the school’s official app, a Google form and pen-and-paper ballots were in favor of “Broncos,” according to a news release from Fayette County Public Schools.

Principal Lester Diaz announced the new nickname at a day-ending pep rally by holding up, then donning, a tee shirt with “Douglass Broncos” printed across the front.

Baseball coach Eddie Brooks liked that Douglass’ students got a “unique opportunity” to have a say in something that will be part of the school forever.

“There’s not a lot of places and a lot of high schools in the United States that you can say the kids actually got a chance to vote on a mascot,” Brooks said. “... It’s a perfect fit to an ending of a great first day here.”

“Mustangs,” “Racers,” “Thoroughbreds” and “Stampede” were also listed as options for which students could vote. “Broncos” was not mentioned in a July report about what options would be listed on the ballot on the first day of school. A student focus group had previously decided that “Stallions” should remain as a possible choice, but it was not on the final ballot.

“Broncos” received 526 votes. “Stampede” was second with 139.

“We got some news earlier in the day that said we couldn’t be ‘Stallions,’ so we just had to take that one,” said Jefferson Harkless, a senior on the football team. “But Broncos is a nice fit and I actually think it sounds better. That’s us now. As a team, we love it.”

The school, Fayette County’s first new high school since 1990, originally unveiled “Stallions” as its nickname on Jan. 2, along with its school colors (Keeneland green and a shade of orange inspired by the University of Miami) and logos (a bold ‘D’ and a fierce-looking horse).

An online petition decrying “Stallions” as a sexist nickname immediately began to circulate online. Stallions, according to Dictionary.com, is a term used to describe a “uncastrated adult male horse, especially one used for breeding.” The nickname Stallions was derived from the school’s property, once part of the famed Hamburg Place farm where racehorses, among them six Kentucky Derby winners, were sired.

Frederick Douglass high school principal Lester Diaz gives remarks about welcoming students on the school's first day of classes.

Fayette County Superintendent Manny Caulk announced Jan. 3 that the school would not adopt “Stallions” and that students would choose a horse-themed mascot.

Maliq Trigg, another football senior, thinks “Broncos” has a great ring to it but having “Stallions” taken off the table this morning was a bit of a “vibe-killer.” The football team took the original nickname to heart because it was the first one with which they became acquainted when they started working out back in the offseason, Harkless said.

“We knew that there was a possibility that it would be something else, so we kept that in mind even though we rolled with (Stallions) the whole summer,” Harkless said. “That was our thing, but we can adjust. We’ve been adjusting all summer, and we’re used to it, man.”

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps

Valarie Honeycutt-Spears contributed to this story.

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