A rattlesnake as school mascot? Community near Charlotte hisses at the plan

Fort Mill would have been the first district in the state to pick a rattle snake as the school mascot.
Fort Mill would have been the first district in the state to pick a rattle snake as the school mascot. Star-Telegram/Jeffery Washington

The Carolinas have Demons, Sharks and even Devildogs for high school mascots, but one district just outside Charlotte has drawn the line at being the only one in South Carolina to go with rattlesnakes.

Fort Mill’s school board in York County, S.C., voted last week not to make the new mascot for the town’s third high school “the Rattlers,” says the Fort Mill Times.

An alternative mascot for Catawba Ridge High didn’t emerge, though there was talk weeks earlier of the Catawba Ridge Copperheads. The idea of a rattlesnake mascot emerged from a survey of more than 1,300 people, says the Times.

Students were largely for the idea of being the Rattlers, but the Times says opposition grew in the community as the board vote neared. Fort Mill would have been the only public school district in the state to pick a snake, according to a website devoted to South Carolina mascots.

The state is believed to have had at least one school in years past with a rattlesnake mascot, Mount Pleasant High School in the Lee County. It became a middle school in 2000 and is now reportedly closed. Rather than a mascot dressed as a snake, the school’s cheerleaders wore rattlers on their uniforms, it is reported.

Comments on social media seemed largely against the choice of Rattlers for Fort Mill.

“When you call a person a snake what comes to mind?” posted Lori Zywicki on the Fort Mill Times web page. “Is that what you want our school to represent? A school of scary, shady, poisonous snakes/kids....(We) want to intimidate other teams, but not kill them.”

“Terrible name. Will not buy any spirit gear with snakes on it. Terrified of snakes,” wrote Kristen Hargraves.

“How are you going to dress a mascot in a rattlesnake costume?” asked Sarah Brant.

Other names tossed out throughout the process include War Birds, Rapids and Catamounts, reported the Times.

Al Beckley of Rock Hill was among those who felt critics were overreacting. He blamed it on snake phobia or ophidiophobia.

“Keep in mind that scary team names are meant to intimidate the opponent, not make you feel all warm and fuzzy,” he posted. “But, if you can’t get past your snake complex, how about the Catawba Ridge Raptors? You know, hawks, eagles, ospreys, etc? Of course, they KILL and EAT cute little bunnies, but at least they don’t have scales.”

Supporters of the Rattlers proposal hope to convince the board to rethink the vote, it was reported.