Winged Beaver, Lusitania are linked forever in mascot lore


Winged Beaver, Lusitania are linked forever in mascot lore

I’ve been having too much fun with the reaction to my Tuesday online piece about schools’ unusual mascots.

From Lincoln up the road to Yuma, Ariz., to Freeburg, Ill. — and beyond — folks have weighed in about their Mudcats, Fighting Zebras, Dots and Donkeys.

From Criminals to Appleknockers, most schools’ mascots have historical connection to their births.

One of the many icons of spirit that I touched on were the Winged Beavers of Avon Old Farms School for boys in Avon, Conn.

A beaver? I get it. But one with wings … who is playing hockey? One has to visit the school’s website before the image demands greater explanation.

Without even having to dial long distance, lo and behold, Chris Webb, the school’s director of institutional advancement, sent me an email with a history of how his campus adopted a puck-pushing, flying, semiaquatic rodent as a mascot.

Relatively new to Avon Old Farms staff, Webb told me that, upon his arrival, he dug into the history of the Winged Beaver.

“In 1927, Theodate Pope Riddle, a female architect — one of the first in Connecticut — realized her dream to open an ‘indestructible school for boys in Avon.’

“There is much more info regarding Ms. Riddle …”

Webb said Riddle survived the sinking of the Lusitania, which was torpedoed by German U-boats in 1915, leading to the United States’ entry into War World I.

Webb continued, directing me to his school’s website for more on Riddle and the evolution of the Winged Beaver, but he gave me the brief history …

The Avon Old Farms motto Aspirando et Perseverando (aspire and persevere) “embodies Riddle’s life of grit and determination. Her desire for excellence in her life, and her strength to pursue her dreams regardless of what society told her, continues to thrive in all we do at this unique Connecticut boarding school for boys.”

“To best capture the motto, it was determined that ‘aspire’ should be represented by the wings of an eagle, and ‘perseverance’ should be represented by the tenacity and determination of a beaver,” Webb continued.

“Hence, the Winged Beaver.”

Ah. Now it all makes sense.

While I Have You Here: I checked in with Davis High Athletic Director Jeff Lorenson on Thursday, and he says social-distanced athletes continue to work out on campus.

According to Lorenson, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported during daily check-in procedures, and the coaches have done “a terrific job” keeping kids safe while moving conditioning forward.

To err on the side of caution, the weight room (which was available by reservation only during the first part of July) is now closed to student-athletes, the AD told me.

The hope is, says Lorenson, that there will be a fall schedule (even if it starts in October or after Jan. 1).

While national, Yolo County and state public health officials still wrestle with what can or should be done about sports and the reopening of schools, the California Interscholastic Federation is expected to make an announcement about its championship scheduling on Monday.

If CIF playoffs are moved back, the start of each season will follow in line. If the postseason is canceled, that apparently leaves decisions about playing regular seasons up to individual leagues, schools and regions.

In short, about 72 hours before the first shoe is set to drop, few know what’s going to happen.

Ever hear that before during this pandemic?

— Reach sports editor Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or call 530-320-4456.



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