Crimson Tide nickname shared by nine high schools
Sun. December 18, 2011 at 1:00 a.m. | By John Davidson
Nick Nobile plays football for Columbia High School in Columbia, Pa. The school’s nickname is the Crimson Tide. There are nine high schools in the United States with the nickname Crimson Tide. (Photo by Photo | Lancaster (Pa.) New Era)
The University of Alabama has a nickname unique in all of college athletics, but it’s not the only Crimson Tide. In fact, nine high schools — ranging from Massachusetts to Louisiana to Oregon — field teams called the Crimson Tide.
One school, Pottsville Area High School in Pennsylvania, derived its nickname in a similar fashion to Alabama. Until the early 1960s, Pottsville’s teams were called the Bulldogs and wore the colors crimson and white.
Athletic Director Eric Rismiller said that during a game against Mount Carmel, the all-time winningest team in the state, a sportswriter said the Pottsville defense looked like a sea of crimson running all over Mount Carmel, and the nickname stuck.
According to legend, Alabama was nicknamed by Hugh Roberts, sports editor of the Birmingham Age-Herald, after witnessing UA overcome a favored Auburn team on a muddy field in Birmingham in 1907.
Rismiller said Pottsville students are mostly Penn State supporters, but the school has one big Alabama fan in Dean of Students John Powers. Powers, 62, said he grew up watching only a select few teams on TV, such as Oklahoma, Tennessee and Alabama. He said he fell in love with watching the late Paul W. “Bear” Bryant coach Alabama and has been a fan ever since. His daughter was recently accepted to enroll at UA.
“I plan on retiring after this year, and I have two goals,” Powers said. “I’d like to visit Ireland because I’m Irish, but, more importantly, I want to go to Tuscaloosa to see an Alabama football game.”
Ironically, several of the other Crimson Tide high schools did not derive their name from Alabama. Some teams took their nicknames from another well-known school, whose mascot is the Crimson.
“We were trying to emulate Harvard,” Everett, Mass., coach John DiBiaso said. “They said we had to be something different, so we became the Crimson Tide.”
Everett High has won more state titles than anyone else in Massachusetts. The Crimson Tide went 13-0 this year to capture the school’s ninth state football championship under DiBiaso.
He said Everett’s team has been the Crimson Tide since 1892, the first year Everett played football, and his team identifies with Alabama’s winning tradition.
“All the kids will root for the Crimson Tide over LSU,” DiBiaso said. “We’re the Tide. Our big cheer is ‘Roll Tide Roll.’ ”
At Concord High in New Hampshire, the Crimson Tide name has been in use since 1897. The story has a twist, as both Manchester Central High School and Concord used the same nickname until 1912. The rival schools, just 18 miles apart, had an interesting way to solve the dispute.
“The two teams decided to play each other for the name,” Concord coach Eric Brown said. “Concord won, and the rest is history.”
Two schools derived their Crimson Tide nickname from neither Harvard nor Alabama. In Hillsboro, Ore., Glencoe High School has played sports as the Crimson Tide since the school opened in 1980. The team is called the Crimson Tide because the school is located close to farmland where clover grows in the fields, giving them a reddish tint. When wind comes through, the fields look like a red wave, giving birth to the nickname.
Columbia Junior High/Senior High School in Columbia, Pa., is the Crimson Tide because of the proximity to the nearby Susquehanna River. Athletic Director Jim Rhoads said the school has been calling its teams the Crimson Tide since 1932 because Columbia is a river town. Columbia quarterback Seth Lesever said he takes pride in playing for the Crimson Tide, especially because he has a lot of family in Alabama.
“It’s nice to tell your family down there you’re winning for the Crimson Tide,” Lesever said. “It means a lot to them.”
The origins of the Crimson Tide nickname at some schools are lost to history. Athletic Director Johnnie Walker of Dunbar Senior High School in Washington, D.C., has no idea how his school chose the nickname.
“I don’t know why we aren’t called the Poets,” Walker said. “We’re named after a poet (Paul Lawrence Dunbar) and a school in Baltimore named after him has their sports teams named the Poets.”
He also said the Crimson Tide connection is not strong, and his rooting interest and that of his students in the upcoming national championship is the same.
“We’re all LSU people here,” Walker said.
Minden High in Louisiana is the only Crimson Tide high school in Southeastern Conference country. With the school located in the northwestern part of the state, some 250 miles from LSU’s campus in Baton Rouge, Minden coach Randy Peters said he hasn’t received any flak for his team being the Crimson Tide, even with Alabama and LSU poised to play for the national championship in New Orleans. He said he thinks most people know the school is not associated with Alabama.
“Occasionally, people will look at our shirts that say either ‘Crimson Tide’ or ‘Tide football’ and ask why we’re wearing Alabama shirts,” Peters said. “I just usually point to an ‘M’ located somewhere on the shirt and tell them we’re Minden.”
Peters said the previous three seasons his team’s uniforms and helmets looked exactly like Alabama’s, but they were switched this year for reasons that have nothing to do with Alabama.
“We just wanted to change things up,” Peters said.
Everett High School:
Location: Everett, Massachusetts
Name Established: 1892
Football Team’s 2011 Record: 13-0
Pottsville Area High School:
Location: Pottsville, Pennslyvania
Name Established: 1963/64
Football Team’s 2011 Record: 7-5
Glencoe High School:
Location: Hillsboro, Oregon
Name Established: 1980
Football Team’s 2011 Record: 2-8
Minden High School:
Location: Minden, Louisiana
Name Established: At least since the 1960s
Football Team’s 2011 record: 7-5
Dunbar High School:
Location: Washington, D.C.
Name Established: Early 1940s
Football Team’s 2011 Record: 9-3
Concord High School:
Location: Concord, New Hampshire
Name Established: 1912
Football Team’s 2011 Record: 2-8
Edgerton High School
Location: Edgerton, Wisconsin
Name Established: At least since 1955
Football Team’s 2011 Record: 5-4
Columbia High School:
Location: Columbia, Pennslyvania
Name Established: 1932
Football Team’s 2011 Record: 7-5
Spaulding High School:
Location: Barre, Vermont
Name Established: 1930s
Football Team’s 2011 Record: 0-9