by WES FERGUSON
The mustachioed mascot at Hays High School looks like he’s hopping mad.
If so, he’s got his reasons. First, “Colonel Jack” lost his belt buckle bearing the Stars and Bars. Sometimes the carpetbaggers even commandeer his pistols, replacing them with a couple of harmless flags.
At least no one’s tried to strip him of his uniform. Might there be a pair of long johns beneath those Confederate grays?
In the past few weeks, a rebel yell has been raised to protect Colonel Jack from any further insult. Hays High School alumni and athletic supporters are coming together to save their mascot from the dustbin of history, much like the fate of actual Rebels who fought during the Civil War.
“Don’t take the rebel away!” implores one Facebook group, which boasts more than 100 members.
But those sympathizers are just whistling Dixie, according to Hays High School Principal David Pierce.
“It’s all rumor,” he said. “It’s all false. I have not tried to change any mascot, nor have I wanted to change the mascot.”
It’s not even up for discussion, Pierce added.
“There’s not been anyone that’s approached me about it,” he said. “I’m sure there’s people out there that don’t like it. Really, that could be said for a lot of mascots.”
The mascot has been around almost as long as football coach Bob Shelton, who retired after the end of last season. Shelton had coached at Hays since it opened in 1968, and at Buda High School four years before that.
“As far as I know, people will take that mascot, and different organizations will do different things with it,” Shelton said. “The ones we use for athletics, I think he still has guns in his hands.”
People have argued that Confederate imagery, including the rebel, is a painful reminder of slavery. At the collegiate level, the University of Mississippi’s mascot, Colonel Reb, was retired in 2003. Last year, Ole Miss replaced him with an anthropomorphic black bear.
About 10 high schools around Texas boast Rebel mascots.
The original Colonel Jack, though, was no rebel. Jack C. Hays, the namesake of Hays High School and Hays County, was a former Texas Ranger who lived in California during the Civil War.
During the fighting, he remained neutral.