Ahead of the Union-Jenks Backyard Bowl, Union High School unveiled a new member of the squad, the new mascot, Hyper.
With controversy for years over Union’s uses of “Redskins,” some thought the new mascot might bring change, but the school said they are still proud to be Redskins.
The new mascot doesn't look anything like a Native American; as a matter of fact, it's not clear exactly what he is.
Students developed the new character, however, many still support Redskin pride.
Friday night, out of the smoke-filled teepee, emerged not the traditional Union mascot, but Hyper.
"We were like, it's hype, but we needed something that would bring it up a notch,” said student KeNajia Taylor. "He's a character, and it's for anybody to determine whatever they want to. We don’t want him to be one thing; we just want everybody to bring their own imagination to it.”
School representatives say they are the still the proud Redskins.
In light of the controversy in the past surrounding labeling sports team with Native American-inspired monikers, not everyone is happy about the school keeping “Redskins.”
In 2013, the National Congress of American Indians asked Union to change its mascot from the Redskins. According to the NCAI, the nicknames and images depicting them are an attack on their culture.
But, the school said the name “Redskins” indicates pride, and the new mascot will too, according to teacher Jennifer Fisher.
"It is just what the kids came up with and it is not connected with the Redskin official mascot. We are the Union Redskins; no plan whatsoever to change our name. This was just born out of a sports marketing curriculum out of the classroom."
It was in that classroom where students developed an app that allows students to track games on their phones and rack up points for prizes. That class is also where Hyper’s look and energetic, electric design was created.
Friday was Hyper's first official appearance, and just as Union plans to keep the Redskins legacy alive, they plan to do the same with Hyper.
"I love being able to start something and let other kids grow it and enhance it," said student Joe Tindell.
Through what they've learned in the sports marketing class, many students have already snagged jobs working for local sports teams.
They said this is the first year to create something this big, but they hope to keep the momentum going in years to come.