Overton High School - Memphis, Tennessee
Reunion of the First Graduating Classes 1962-65

Overton Selects New Mascot - The Wolverine

by Shane Ellis, Overton Tribune, volume 32, No. 4, Overton High School, Memphis, Tennessee, May 1992

Just as times change, so do traditions. Overton High School will no longer have the Rebel mascot. With the loss of the Rebel, Overton has gained a new beginning, a new beginning with the Wolverine.

Back in the late fall the Student Council decided to make a change for the school. Chris Primous, president of the Student Council, felt the Rebel should be changed.

At a Student Council meeting Chris and the other members discussed the issue and the majority of the members felt he was right. Thereafter, the issue was presented to the entire student body. The students were allowed to vote on whether or not to keep the Old Rebel mascot or to select a new one.

The decision was made to find a new mascot for Overton, and students came up with many suggestions. Of the many, one was chosen: it was the Wolverine.

As you may know, Overton is not the only school with the Wolverine as its mascot. Following in the footsteps of the University of Michigan, Overton's athletic department plans o be very aggressive with all of its opponents.

The University of Michigan is proud to know that their mascot has been adopted by one of the best Memphis City Schools.

Dr. Harry Wilcox, a graduate from the University of Michigan, was asked by Ms. Taras [a teacher at Overton] to comment on the Michigan mascot, "Wolverines." Dr. Wilcox's children were graduates of Overton High School [Joyce '62, Margaret '63, Jim '71]. The following letter was his response.

Dear Loretta [Taras]:

Your request for information about my feelings concerning the nickname " WOLVERINES" is somewhat difficult to fulfill. This name has long designated the athletic teams of the University of Michigan, a school to which I owe a great deal. I did my undergraduate and graduate work in Ann Arbor, and was awarded a baccalaureate, a master's and a Doctorate upon completion of the appropriate levels of effort. I am very proud of that University and grateful for the education I received there. I, along with all my classmates, the hundreds who have followed, do call ourselves "Wolverines." Why? Because we cheered so vigorously at every game or event.

The Wolverine is a symbol and nothing more. I am not sure who is responsible for it, or when i was formally adopted. But it has been accepted, used and even revered by all students without question. The vast majority of the student body and the State of Michigan probably have given little thought to the animal that bears that name.

I am by training a Biologist. Specifically, a Vertebrate Zoologist with a good deal of experience in the field and laboratory with animals, including the Wolverine. I know it well. It is an animal that I respect as an animal and its role in nature. But, although I am proud to be called a "Wolverine" as an alumnus of the University of Michigan, I might take umbrage if someone who was unaware of that affiliation referred to me as a "Wolverine." The Wolverine is not a paragon of virtue, character, or beauty.

It is nothing more than the weasel-like carnivore so well adapted to its particular life style.

The scientific name of the Wolverine is Guto Luscus. This was applied to it by a scientist who had observed it, and knew its reputation by personal observations and had heard tales from hunters, trappers, and natures. The scientific name can be literally translated as "playful glutton."

From this you can see that I view it merely as a symbol. It is really no worse (or no better) than names applied to teams of other schools: Longhorns, Horned Toads, Huskies, Badgers, Gophers, Gators, Razorbacks or Hogs, Boll Weevils, etc. No one takes those names seriously, or thinks of them as offensive . They are symbols and nothing more. And, over the years, with the enjoyment of watching the performances of the teams, with appreciation of the benefits of the academic experiences at the schools, the symbols take on new meanings of deep and sincere pride and respect. I view with alarm and dismay the readings of ill intent into too many of symbols that have stood unchallenged for so many years. I sincerely hope no one suggests changing Michigan's Wolverines.

Sincerely,

Harry H. Wilcox

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