The Milford hockey teams will have new nicknames the next time they take the ice for a regular-season game.
The Milford boys team is retiring the Indians’ nickname, which has been around since the program’s start, and has adopted the nickname the Mariners. That became official last week.
“The Indians’ nickname was taken on to honor the old Milford High School (closed in the 1980s). It became obvious that (nickname) was no longer appropriate,” Jonathan Law athletic director V.J. Sarullo said. “Everyone agreed it was the right thing to do and the right time.”
The girls’ team — a co-op with Notre Dame-Fairfield, Weston and Pomperaug — will be called the Milford Lightning.
Milford is the latest school in Connecticut to retire nicknames which could be deemed offensive to Native Americans.
Manchester (Redhawks) changed its nickname in 2019 and Guilford (Grizzlies), Glastonbury (Guardians) and RHAM (Raptors) did so this year. Farmington’s board of education announced this week it will retire its nickname as well. In 2015, West Hartford’s Northwest Catholic changed from Indians to Lions in 2015. That same year, the town’s public high schools — Hall (Warriors) and Conard (Chieftains) — changed their logos while retaining their nicknames.
Sarullo said a committee was put together over the summer that included boys hockey players and their families. A number of surveys were conducted and Sarullo said there were 19 nicknames suggested.
“The student-athletes stepped up. They were not afraid to speak their mind on virtual meetings in front of the parents on there,” Sarullo said.
The list was pared down to three finalists before the Mariners was chosen. The team will feature colors of black and red.
“We were just being proactive, getting ahead and doing the right thing before there was an issue, so to speak,” Milford coach Ken Mitchell said. “We did not want someone to have an issue with the Indians’ logo and have it take away the focus from the hockey.”
Milford has taken over as host of the girls co-op team because the town will have the most members on the team, Sarullo said.
“The determination made sense for us to take it over. Once we did that, we needed a new name and uniforms,” Sarullo said. “It was a very similar process that we did with the boys’ team.”
Sarullo said blue and gold will be the new team colors for the Lightning.
Currently, the beginning of preseason practice for the winter sports season is being delayed until at least Jan. 19 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.