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Guido: Nicknames more than just school rally point

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By George Guido
Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 12:51 a.m.

Monday's opening-round WPIAL Class A baseball game between Springdale and Carmichaels was one of the few high school games these days in which industries in the school districts' regions led to the teams' nicknames.

There was a time when many schools in and around the WPIAL drew nicknames from industries that made their respective towns famous.

Springdale, of course, is called the Dynamos because of the town's long association with the power industry. A dynamo is a shortened form of the term dynamoelectric machine.

Springdale is only one of three high schools in the nation that use the moniker Dynamos.

Lou Zott, a former coach and athlete at Springdale who died recently, was said to have helped bring about the nickname in the late 1940s.

Carmichaels, located in the heart of bituminous coal country in Greene County, long has been called the Mikes. A mike is a motorized car from the early days of the coal industry that brought coal-filled wagons out of the mines.

Farrell still is called the Steelers even though the massive steel mill there long has been idled.

Ambridge is called the Bridgers even though the American Bridge Co. left town about 30 years ago.

Until the mid-1960s, Ford City was known as the Glassers because that community was the birthplace of the American plate glass industry in 1892.

Franklin Township, the forerunner of Franklin Regional High School, was called the Longhorns because farming was common there until the Murrysville residential building boom got underway.

Bessemer High, part of the Mohawk School District in Lawrence County, was called the Cementers.

One school still with a nod toward industry is Erie County's Northeast High, home of vast vineyards along Lake Erie. Northeast is called the Grapepickers.

Wonder how long it will be until a high school will take its name from the Marcellus shale natural gas industry.

High school honorees

Nine local high school student-athletes will be recognized Saturday night at the 45th annual Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame banquet at Clarion Hotel in New Kensington.

Honored will be:

• Jesse Zelonka, Apollo-Ridge, Valley News Dispatch football Offensive Player of the Year

• Allan Cratsenberg, Highlands, VND football Defensive Player of the Year

• Tom Spagnolo, Burrell, VND male soccer Player of the Year

• Aaliyah Odom, Plum, VND female soccer Player of the Year

• Brian Papich, Fox Chapel, Cager Classic boys East MVP

• Zane Clowser, West Shamokin, Cager Classic boys West MVP

• Krista Pietropola, Plum, Cager Classic girls East MVP

• Mallory Heinle, St. Joseph, Cager Classic girls West MVP

• Matt Wolfe, Freeport, Courage Award

Tim Basilone of the Hall of Fame Committee wanted to connect the current generation of high schoolers with the hall's inductees.

George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.

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