What’s the Score on Gusto the Gale?

A blow-by-blow history of the LHS mascot
What’s the Score on Gusto the Gale?

 The history of Gusto, the mascot of the Lancaster High School Golden Gales, spans over a hundred years and is part fact and part legend. Forces outside of the high school arena such as a newspaper press and copyright infringement risks have contributed to the mascot’s image today.  But back in the 1930s, the school mascot was originally the Golden Tornados. Oh, and the school colors were purple and gold then, too.  So how did Gusto come about? Eye of the Gale caught wind of a few facts about the history of the Gusto. 

Dave Davis, a long-time assistant basketball coach reportedly said that the mascot name change was a result of a new printing press by the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette. 

“Lancaster Golden Tornadoes would not fit in their columns,” Davis said. 

“They were looking for something different and one of the sports writers came up with Golden Gales” (McGowan 2015).

Graduation and Testing Coordinator Jonathan Van Linge displays an old tazmanian devil-like costume used as the school mascot.

LHS staff member and alumnus, Jonathan Van Linge said that he heard something similar.

“Legend has it that in the 1930s a writer for a local newspaper shortened the name from Golden Tornadoes to Golden Gales because the original name would not fit in the boxes they used to report sports scores and stats.  Sadly, I do not believe that anyone is still alive from the era to definitively prove this legend. I tend to believe this,” he said.

A 1980s LHS mascot that students called the blue chipmunk.

At some point, perhaps as early as 1980, based on the fierce but cute Looney Tunes character Taz, who turns into a tornado when angry, became a new mascot.  Van Linge provided images of previous LHS yearbooks that feature a Tasmanian Devil-looking mascot on their covers and pages.

“I cannot accurately define when this adoption was made, but I know for sure as early as 1980 he was the mascot.  In fact, a student created version of him was the cover art for the 1988 yearbook,” said Van Linge.

The 1988 Mirage yearbook cover displays a Taz-looking mascot.

“ The Taz mascot from its initial conception until 1994 was not the actual Taz from the cartoons, but rather a bluish bear-looking mascot who was jokingly referred to as the blue chipmunk by students,” he said.

Sometime in 1994 a new mascot costume debuted that depicted the TAZ  character from the cartoons.  He was now brown and wore football shoulder pads under a blue and gold jersey.

Pam Bosser, the LHS Athletic Director  provided insight on how Gusto came to be.

1994 Mirage yearbook cover.

“I know that Doug Henwood reached out in the early 90’s to his nephew and former LHS standout athlete, Chris Henwood (employed at JanSport as a graphic designer) to design a logo for the Golden Gales track and field team,” she said. 

“Once the track team used the logo on T-shirts in the mid/late 90’s, it became popular and local business, Promotions by Design, used the logo for many athletic team apparel designs (the Gale with a pom-pom for cheer, the Gale with a football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, field hockey stick, etc.),” said Bosser.

In the early 2000’s, Taz was retired as mascot. Mr. Van Linge theorized that this had to do with other school lawsuits around this time.

“I cannot verify if that is true but I can say I know that during that time period in America, there were a lot of high schools that were forced to stop using mascots that were duplicates or too close to duplicates of copywritten designs.  Specifically, I know that the University of Notre Dame threatened legal action against several schools using their fighting irish mascot.  I know Taz still existed in 2002 as he is pictured in that school’s yearbook,” said Van Linge.

LHS Athletic Director Pam Bosser. Photo courtesy of Bosser.

It is unsure when Gusto became the official mascot, but by 2015, he came to life.  Bosser said that in 2015, after a year of concept drawings and edits, ProMo Costumes in Marion, Ohio, created the current mascot costume.

How did Gusto get its official name? A coloring page image of Gusto was sent to all Lancaster 4th grade students as part of a mascot naming contest.  

“There were over 400 entries in that naming contest and the name Gusto, submitted by four different LCS 4th graders was selected by the school board as the name for the mascot.  The board liked the name Gusto because it was neither male or female in orientation and therefore could be used as a mascot for either our boys or girls athletic teams,” said Bosser.

LHS sophomore Dominic Clarke.

One of the students responsible for giving the name, sophomore Dominic Clarke, felt satisfied with the name.

“I was inspired by the Skylanders character by the name of Gusto. I felt like the name would suit the mascot the most. I feel like gusto is a unique mascot and a perfect fit for the Lancaster Gales,” said Clarke.

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