Representatives of Falmouth Schools’ civil rights teams have succeeded in their effort to end the era of “Yachtie the Yachtsman.”

“Yachtie” Contributed / Falmouth Schools

The School Board voted last week to officially retire both “Yachtie” and the 73-year-old “Yachtsmen” team name. The vote came after months of discussions, surveys and a presentation by students, who said a large portion of the student body felt unaffiliated with the mascot and name, which they called “snooty” and exclusionary.

The board is hopeful that there will be a new mascot for the 2021-2022 school year, according to Chairperson Whitney Bruce.

A committee to determine the new mascot and name, chaired by Athletic Director James Coffey, was scheduled to meet for the first time this week to begin a process that will culminate in presenting a new team name to the school board this summer.

“The committee is aware that there is significant support for the current colors, the ship’s wheel imagery, and demonstrated connection to our location and the nautical theme,” Bruce said.

The problem the civil rights teams found was one of exclusivity and students’ lack of identification with a name they said exudes the image of a wealthy white man.

“Our Yachtsmen mascot doesn’t promote a sense of belonging for everyone,” they wrote in a presentation to the board in February.

While students have enthusiastically pushed for the change, some alumni said they feel context wasn’t fully taken into account.

“Those who know better understand that a Yachtsman is a skilled athlete that is trained in the art of sailing,” Gary Mara, a 1955 graduate who now lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, said in a phone interview.

He thinks many students are under the impression that the a yacht is a “luxury motorized craft.”

“The boat in which the rich white guy is pictured with his glass of champagne on TV is not a yacht if it lacks sails,” he said.

Mara said he and his classmates felt enormous pride in their school’s nickname because of the yachtsman’s superior athleticism and Falmouth’s proximity to the sea. For Mara, there was no connection to “that ridiculous Yachtie doll.”

“There’s no conversation about this that isn’t complex,” said Falmouth Director of Learning Gretchen McNulty. “What the Yachtsman has meant and symbolized in the past is not necessarily how it’s perceived today.”

“I’m grateful that the board honored the voices of students in this process,” said Ashley Pullen, a Falmouth High School guidance counselor who supervises the civil rights team.

For some, the change isn’t just about inclusivity, but about school spirit as well.

“I personally am not offended by our mascot, but I definitely understand why some people don’t feel included,” said student representative Charlie Geci.  “I’ve never really felt any spirit behind the Yachtsman so I support the motion.”

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