You’re never too old to fly the school colors | NevadaAppeal.com
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You’re never too old to fly the school colors

Barry Smith

I looked around the Nevada Appeal the other day and saw a Mucker, a Filly and a couple of Pirates.

The Mucker is Kelli DuFresne, the Appeal’s features editor, who graduated from Virginia City High School – as valedictorian, I might add.

The Filly would be Amanda Hammon, a reporter who covers City Hall for the Appeal. She’s an alumnus of Austin High School, where the boys are the Broncos, the girls are the Fillies and the junior-high teams are the Colts.

One of the Pirates is Robin Gascon, an advertising representative who graduated from St. Charles (Mo.) High School.

The other is Publisher Jeff Ackerman, who was a track star for the Pirates at Drake High in Marin.

“That’s mighty, mighty Pirates to you,” said Ackerman, before breaking into the school fight song.

I made him stop.

If you want to get a conversation going, ask people for the name of the mascot at their high school. I was trying to find some funny ones, but what I found out about the people who work at the Appeal was more interesting.

DuFresne, for example, was state champion in the two-mile run for the Muckers.

Another state champion in the Appeal newsroom is Teri Vance, our education reporter, who won the Nevada state discus championship for the Wells Leopards. She plays it down because she graduated from Wells after spending three years at Elko (at the same time Glen Adair was principal), where the competition was tougher.

As it turns out, Teri and Amanda competed against each other in the zone tournament in discus. Amanda was disqualified. “I got so excited I stepped out of the ring,” she said.

Rhonda Costa-Landers was a Spartan at Hogan High School in Vallejo. She was 23rd clarinet out of more than 2,800 clarinetists for the California State Honor Band. “I haven’t touched the clarinet in 2 1/2 years,” she says.

Cathleen Allison, one of the Appeal’s photographers, was involved in athletics when she was an Islander at Coronado High School near San Diego – a real surprise to anybody who knows she plans her work around her softball and volleyball schedules. The Islanders mascot is a tiki hut.

I asked Cathleen if she and her twin sister, Trish, were mistaken for each other in high school. “As a matter of fact, we traded classes for an entire day when we were seniors,” she said.

The bad part for Cat, though, was she had to attend algebra class twice that day, because she was afraid she would be exposed as a fraud in her sister’s Spanish II class.

Pete Copeland, the Appeal’s advertising director, has a traumatic high-school memory. He was playing second base for the Spartans of Villa Park (Calif.) High School when he booted a grounder. It cost them the game.

“It wasn’t that big a deal, though,” he said. ‘I think we were, like, 4-18 that year anyway.”

Don Gieseke, who’s the chief financial officer around here, was league wrestling champ when he was a Matador at Miramonte High School in Orinda.

But I was more impressed that he was a whiz in auto shop and was racing pro stock when he was 14 years old.

“I had a 1954 Ford, a 1964 Comet, a 1963 ….”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “You were racing a 1954 Ford on the track when you were 14 years old?”

“Yeah,” he said. “And driving it to work. My parents didn’t know I had it.”

Oh, the things that come out when you just stop to ask.

Take Susie Vasquez, who writes feature stories for the Appeal and was a Bobcat at White Pine High School in Ely.

Of all the loud-mouthed, wisecracking, opinionated personalities in the Appeal’s newsroom – well, Susie’s the one who works quietly and patiently amid the storm going on around her.

So what did Susie do in high school?

“Spent a lot of time in the principal’s office,” she said. The principal was Ferd Mariani, father of Eagle Valley Middle School Principal Florindo Mariani.

I pressed Susie for some details on why she was in the principal’s office so often. “Let’s just say I disagreed with his views on the Vietnam war,” she said. OK.

Among others at the Appeal, there are:

– A Buckaroo from Lowry High in Winnemucca, Caryn Haller, who is working as a reporter this summer.

– Clark High School (Las Vegas) Charger Kurt Hildebrand, the assistant managing editor, who graduated from high school while he was still a junior.

– A Burro. That would be Danny Campos, a graduate of Burroughs High in Ridgecrest, Calif., who handles our national advertising accounts.

– Screamin’ Eagle Sheila Gardner, the night desk editor, is a graduate of Bishop Watterson High, a Catholic school in Columbus, Ohio. She had to wear maroon wool uniforms, if you were wondering.

– Lynn Qualls, the newsroom’s all-around utility player (she does the obituaries, too), was a Miner at Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley.

– Another Miner is Bob Martin, an advertising salesman, who graduated from Bishop Manogue in Reno. He spent 3 1/2 years at Carson High School.

– Fran Norton, who goes by F.T. and covers the police beat, is a Carson High graduate. So is Trina Kleintjes, one of our desk editors. They’re Senators, by the way.

– The lone Lancer in our midst is Jim Scripps, who graduated from St. Francis High School in Mountain View, Calif.

Karen Dunham is a Brave from Banks Union High in Banks, Ore. Don Johnson is an Indian from Owego Free Academy in Upstate New York. Kevin Barnum is a Dust Devil from Dayton.

Sam Bauman, editor of our Diversions magazine, graduated from Fairview High in Dayton, Ohio, in 1946.

“Oh, gosh,” said Sam, when I asked him for his high-school team’s mascot. “How could I remember something so trivial?”

But he did.

“Bulldogs,” he said. “And the school colors were blue and gold.”

Barry Smith is managing editor of the Nevada Appeal.