Eventually, Wyoming will have a new high school.
Maybe in Gillette. Maybe in Casper. Maybe in Wamsutter, LaBarge or Linch.
And when that happens, the school will have to choose a mascot and colors for itself.
When Wyoming’s most recent new high school, Cheyenne South, opened in 2011, it went with a color scheme and nickname that surprised some people — the black and gold Bison. The surprise came not from the selection (Bison and Cheyenne are a good fit for a mascot) but from the fact that South used a color scheme and mascot already in use in Wyoming.
The black and gold on a Bison uniform? Yep, Buffalo High had been doing that for decades.
The repetitiveness of South’s choice is unique in the Equality State. Only four other pairs of schools repeat color schemes and mascots: Sheridan and Cody (the blue-and-yellow Broncs), Burns and Jackson (the black-and-orange Broncs), Cokeville and Powell (the black-and-orange Panthers), Moorcroft and Green River (the green and white/black Wolves). And one of those is pretty tenuous, as Cody has made a strong move to switch from yellow to gold in recent years.
However, none of these schools is new. They’ve all used their colors and mascots for decades. So when a new school repeated a color scheme and mascot of an existing school — especially when numerous other options were available — it rubbed some people the wrong way.
So what color scheme and mascot options exist for Wyoming’s next new school?
I took a look at existing NFL and major college (FBS) schools to see what unique color schemes aren’t being used in Wyoming right now. Then, using the Ripon Athetic jersey simulator, I made some templates. Some options include:
Aqua and orange: Like the Miami Dolphins. Aqua would be a unique choice, what with Wyoming’s big blue skies and all, but I’m not sure the pairing with the orange would work. Still could make for a cool base color to pair with something else.
Silver and black: Like the Oakland Raiders. But Raiders colors in Wyoming? Maybe not.
Red and gold: Like the San Francisco 49ers. Red is a prevalent color in the state, but no Wyoming school has matched it with a true gold. Big Horn, Star Valley and now even Laramie mix maroon and yellow, but the state has no true red/gold combos.
Light blue and gold: Like UCLA. This, especially accentuated with black, could be a good look. Arvada-Clearmont mixes a light blue and yellow and it looks pretty sharp, but gold would be a unique twist.
Orange and white: Like Texas or Tennessee. Lots of Wyoming schools have orange, but it’s almost always paired with black. It’d be a bold step to do orange/white with NO black.
Green and gold: Like South Florida. A bunch of Wyoming schools do green and yellow but, again, true gold is rare.
Maroon and gold: Like Florida State or Boston College. Again, where’s all the gold uniforms in Wyoming? (Yeah, I know… the simulator I used has its maroon look really purplish.)
Maroon and orange: Like Virginia Tech. Then again, I can see why no one has done this… blech.
The big takeaway here? Only three Wyoming teams really embrace gold as a GOLD consistently — Buffalo, Wright and Cheyenne South — and all three are black and gold mixes. Other schools dabble in gold on some uniforms and have yellow on others.
Maybe, in retrospect, Cheyenne South wasn’t all that far off in choosing gold. Maybe pairing it with something other than black would have assuaged the doubters and given the school a unique spin untouched by any other school in the state.
The top 20 most common high school mascots in the U.S., in order, per this site, are as follows: Eagles, Tigers, Panthers, Bulldogs, Wildcats, Warriors, Lions, Cougars, Indians, Knights, Mustangs, Falcons, Trojans, Vikings, Rams, Cardinals, Raiders, Spartans, Patriots, Pirates.
Of these, mascots that aren’t active in Wyoming right now are the Wildcats, Lions, Knights, Falcons, Cardinals, Raiders, Spartans and Pirates. Albin used to be the Wildcats, and Huntley used to be the Cardinals, and Goshen Hole used to be the Spartans, and Reliance used to be the Pirates. But they’re all closed now.
Surprisingly, no Wyoming high school has opted for the Cowboys. And “wild” but common mascots like the Falcons, Hawks and Bears make a lot of sense, but no active Wyoming school has opted for one of those, either.
Still, I think the best mascots are the unique ones — the ones that embody a community. A few years ago, I looked at the state’s best and worst mascots, and I noted that some of my favorites were the Punchers (Big Piney), the Miners (Hanna), the Doggers (Lingle) and the Oilers (Midwest) because of how well they embody the community they represent.
Ultimately, the decision for any new color scheme and mascot depends on the community in which the school is built.
In a state as small as Wyoming, though, a unique combination shouldn’t be that hard to find.