BELLEVILLE - For more than 40 years, Belleville Mennonite School sports teams have fought valiantly as Trojans on the athletic battlefields.
After the 2012-13 basketball season, the Trojans will lay down their swords and hang up their helmets for good. School officials announced that BMS teams will undergo a nickname change, part of what development director Valerie Reed called a new athletic branding and identity change.
School officials hope to unveil the new nickname in early 2013. Belleville Mennonite doesn't offer spring sports, so it won't appear in athletic competitions until the fall.
Photo submitted by BELLEVILLE MENNONITE SCHOOL
Belleville Mennonite School’s first year as the Trojans was 1969, when this group took to the court for the school in boys basketball. Boys and girls playing basketball this season will be the last to use the moniker; the school is planning to change its mascot for next school year.
"The Trojan mascot has two negative connotations, the first being a highly marketed contraceptive and the second is a war-like figure," Reed said. "As a conservation, pacifist, Christian organization, we strive to do everything in our power to promote ourselves in a positive, Christ-centered way; a way that accurately promotes our mission."
During the selection process, Belleville Mennonite officials sought nicknames that would promote the school in a more positive manner and reinforce its mission and philosophy, and that also would work well with the school's name, represent some part of the history of the school or area, and say something about its geographic location.
Reed said about 40 suggestions for nicknames were submitted from students, parents and alumni. School officials then narrowed the list of choices to four: Blaze, Bucks, Mountaineers and Thunder. Students then selected Blaze and Thunder, and will vote for a winner in the coming weeks.
Reed said "Blaze" is associated with fire. There are a number of biblical connections with blaze, including being on fire for God, the burning bush or the fiery furnace. The name also provides a pleasant alliteration with "BMS Blaze" or "Belleville Blaze" options.
"Thunder" is a loud, explosive, resounding noise, much like God's voice in the Bible. It has a very strong meaning, Reed said.
BMS was founded in 1945, although the school has not always fielded athletic teams. The current Trojan mascot was introduced in 1969.