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Dodgers to unveil new mascot at homecoming game

-Submitted photo
The most recent Dodger mascot, which was introduced in the late 2000s. This was the first Dodger mascot to feature a miner character.

The Fort Dodge Community School District will unveil a new Dodger mascot during tonight’s varsity football Homecoming game.

Throughout the years, Fort Dodge Senior High has had a number of mascots. No one is quite sure exactly when the first Dodger mascot was created, said Erik Hoveland, student services liaison at FDSH.

“Sometime in the ’80s or ’90s, we had the ‘Spirit Stick,’ and then Roger Dodger, who I think was a stick of dynamite,” he said.

Then in 2008 or 2009, a new mascot was introduced. This was the first iteration of a miner as a mascot. While it had no official name, many students and community members affectionately referred to the mascot as “Prospector Pete.”

Two years ago, FDSH Cheer Coach K.C. Williams approached the school for a new mascot because the current one was falling apart.

-Submitted photo
Until the new mascot is unveiled at tonight’s homecoming game, community members have only seen the mascot’s silhouette.

“It just kind of never went anywhere,” Hoveland said.

Then Williams approached Hoveland earlier this spring to ask about a new mascot again.

Hoveland knew that Iowa Central Community College was very happy with their mascot costumes, so he reached out to the company that made them to get a quote and a design mock-up for a Dodger mascot.

Next, Hoveland had to figure out how to come up with the funds to cover the “substantial” cost of the costume. He reached out to groups district-wide and eventually came up with the amount needed for the mascot.

The cost of the mascot was fully covered by donations from all the Fort Dodge booster clubs, Fort Dodge Middle School, Dodger Senate, National Honor Society and Dodger Cheerleading.

Hoveland said he did initially receive some pushback from the boosters about the cost, but he was able to show the cost was worthwhile for the value the district would receive.

“This thing is going to last 15 years if we take care of it,” he said. “It’s got a carrying case, the head has a cooling fan and it has a cooling vest.”

The mascot was designed and manufactured by BAM Mascots, a company out of Canada.

“Over the summer, I kept getting little glimpses like ‘here’s the head’ or ‘here’s his shoes,'” Hoveland said. “So that was pretty exciting.”

Until the unveiling at tonight’s game, only two people have seen the full mascot costume — Hoveland and the faculty member who will be wearing the costume to the game.

“I’m hoping everybody just loves him,” Hoveland said. “I prepared a video to play on the video board that goes through the history.”

Having a miner as the Dodgers’ mascot pays homage to the community’s deep roots in the mining industry.

“The student section at football and basketball and any home event is the ‘Mine Squad’ and that’s the kids sitting in the mine, basically,” Hoveland said.

“What is a Dodger?” is a question that is asked often.

“A ‘dodger’ had to light the fuse of the dynamite and then dodge the explosion,” the district said. “He was the miner who was the last man out. He exemplified courage, toughness, grit and a will to survive and thrive by working hard to beat the odds. These characteristics continue to represent our Dodgers today.”

Hoveland hopes that the new Dodger mascot will be more than just a character for the high school, but an asset for the entire district. He hopes to see the mascot utilized at events at the elementary schools and the middle school and out in the community as well.

“It’s like a community pride thing,” he said. “This is our school and this is who we are and this is where we came from. Without mining, this community probably wouldn’t be where it is.”

To get the entire district excited about this new mascot, Hoveland has opened up a naming contest. The contest is open to students, faculty and classes throughout the district in K-12. The naming contest will run until Sept. 20.

“We’ve gotten just over 200 (entries) and there’s still a whole other week,” Hoveland said. “I’ve actually formed a committee who will look at the hopefully 500 names that were submitted and narrow it down.”

The committee will be a school board member; Eric Pratt, sports editor of The Messenger; Williams; Hoveland; Kevin Astor, athletics and activities director for the senior high; and Superintendent Jesse Ulrich.

Anyone interested in submitting a name to the contest can contact Hoveland at FDSH.