Becoming Witches: How Brewer High (Likely) Got Its Mascot
Believe it or not, high school mascots weren't always a thing. It seems hard to believe because we've always associated mascots as part of the school identity. I graduated from Hampden Academy, and we've just always been the Broncos. It's how we referred to ourselves in the third person throughout my entire high school career. Same for my sister who went there years before I did.
But back about 100 years ago, if you were reading about high school sports in the paper, teams were simply referred to by their colors. It was never the Rams vs. the Broncos, it was the Crimson vs. the Purple and White. I'm not sure if this was confusing if Hampden played John Bapst, since they have the same colors. But that's not really the point here is it....
Now while it's hard to say why each town came up with the mascots they did, but a man named Dan Stewart posted a two part article he wrote for Discover Maine Magazine, that delves deeply into how the Brewer Witches got their name. And though, it can't be verified 100%, he offers up some pretty convincing opinions based on some really thorough research.
Stewart combed through countless archives from the Bangor Daily News, looking for the earliest references to Brewer's famous mascot. According to his piece, previous to the 1931 football season, Brewer had a long string of bad luck when it came to winning games. But in 1931, things turned around for pretty well. The paper started constantly referring to them "breaking their curse" and things such as that.
So, the papers started referring to them as "magical" and "breaking the jinx", and also, there was a reference to their orange and black colors, and beginning to pair them up with the Halloween season, which happens to coincide with football season. Combine all those things, and news outlets simply started referring to Brewer's team as the Witches.
Now the trickier thing here, is that there's no specific record as to when they definitely started calling themselves the Witches. Whether it was happening in the press and they ran with it, or the press grabbed it from them. But we do know that at the time, orange and black were widely recognized colors of Halloween.
I know this world revolves on smoking gun stories, and it would be nice if there was one here. But I really think Dan Stewart nails it. It makes sense really, that it's as basic as just orange + black + Halloween = Witches. Maybe teams like the Rams and the Broncos are named after insanely tough animals, because that's how they were on the field.
Football did seem to be the major sport of the time, so it might be all high schools eventually went with names instead of just their colors. I mean really, if you were trying to sound intimidating, would you rather be called the Rams, or the Crimson? I know that I'd want to be called something super tough. That's why there's no teams called the Silly Nannies.
But there should be. No one would ever suspect the Silly Nannies.