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Details ironed out for new Armstrong school sports' teams

| Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, 12:11 a.m.

A dusty construction site in Manor Township gained a real identity Monday night — home of the Armstrong Riverhawks.

Armstrong School Board's unanimous vote to call the new school Armstrong Junior/Senior High and dub the mascot the Riverhawks drew mixed reactions, but one consensus among students and board members was relief a decision had been made.

For a number of logistical reasons — finalizing a name, mascot, and blue and orange as team colors — was a priority for the board, even though the immediate impact of the choice was largely symbolic.

“We definitely wanted to get that out of the way. We're glad we came up with something everybody could agree on,” Armstrong School Board president Joe Close said.

“It seems different right now, but in the future, it should be more normal. Ten years from now, that will just be what the kids going to the new school grew up with.”

Close said details were finalized to help construction at the school, where the school's name and colors will be integrated into latter stages of the project.

The Armstrong hockey program — the first to combine players from Ford City and Kittanning — is a little more than a month away from starting preseason play and needed to know its team name and nickname.

“I'm happy we finally got something picked. It's been a hectic process getting ready for the season,” said Hunter Grafton, a Kittanning senior who will be the first to wear the captain's “C” on a Riverhawks jersey this fall.

“It's about 50-50 with people who like it, but everyone's going with it. I don't see why not; it's just a team name. It's going to be a privilege to get to play on the first team, even though the schools aren't combining yet.”

The Armstrong name came simply enough, with Fort Armstrong being the most heavily considered alternative. Riverhawks, on the other hand, was a little trickier to settle.

Other mascot options, including Hawks, Eagles and Miners, were considered and garnered support in polls of students and community members. The result — no bird species known as a river hawk exists — will be a unique WPIAL mascot.

“It's very different from before, where the schools have the town names and the cat (mascot) names at Kittanning and Ford City,” Close said. “We wanted to leave out the old schools, let them have their own history and come up with something new.”

The school board hopes to have a logo design within the next two months, and there are a two from which it can draw inspiration. The University of Massachusetts-Lowell is known as the River Hawks. Division II Northeastern State (Okla.) opts for the spelling RiverHawks.

Other similar ideas came to Kittanning sophomore Jacob Robb, a football player and wrestler who is among the first class slated to graduate from the new school.

“I'm fine with it, but it's kind of close to IUP,” Robb said, referring to Indiana (Pa.) University's Crimson Hawks. “I don't think any of the guys care what it is, we're still going to be playing, no matter what.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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