History of the Highlander


Megan Killop, Business Manager

The student section roaring, players celebrating, and the crowd erupting into applause; this picture perfect moment wouldn’t be complete without the Highlander on the side-line. This Scottish symbol has been Howell High School’s mascot since roughly the late 1940’s, when the 1947 yearbook referred to the Highlander. The mascot was kept since the topography parallels between Howell and the Scottish Highlands were so similar. The adoption was official in 1956, and mascot suit itself was purchased with the class of 1996’s $2,000 donation.

The picture had always been on jerseys, t-shirts, and banners, but the concept of having someone in the suit consistently is actually more recent. Various students would mascot at a game or two, but nothing steady. The actual mascot suit was never really used until about 10 years ago. Dan Hutcheson, Howell’s Athletic Director, found the suit one day, decided to touch it up a little bit, and give it a home. This led to the start of the passing down of the Highlander.

The role of a mascot is essentially to create enthusiasm and pump up the crowd. The Highlander, however, is much more than that.

“The Highlander is there to show good sportsmanship, and represent the student body in the right way,” Hutcheson says.

Howell alumni, Tanner Damaske (Class of 2014), was the first to successfully accomplish the role of the mascot. Tanner was given the tremendous, and slightly intimidating, responsibility as a sophomore, and victoriously completed three long years as the Highlander.

The mascot has the ability to make a positive impact on the student body, and Damaske exceeded those expectations.

“I was at most of the sporting events at Howell trying to make them a better environment, and also making people happy and laugh,” Damaske says.

Damaske had the opportunity to create many firsts for the Highlander. He was the very first Highlander to ice skate at the hockey games. That’s something that Damaske or Howell won’t ever forget.

“The most memorable moment was seeing the student section’s and the other people in the crowd’s reactions when they saw the mascot on ice,” Damaske says.

Damaske set the bar high for the future mascots. He represented Howell at the highest level, and fulfilled his role flawlessly.

“I had some big shoes to fill, literally,” the current Highlander who opted to remain anonymous says.

One quarrel about Howell’s mascot is the Warrior Zone. In recent years, Howell’s marketing class wanted to create a name for the student section at the sporting events. They came up with the Warrior Zone, and created their own merchandise to sell. Once students started wearing their products, a controversy came up – is Howell no longer the Highlanders?

“We are not changing to the Warriors, we are the Highlanders. The Warrior Zone was created knowing that a highlander, is a Scottish warrior,” Hutcheson says.

The Warrior Zone is meant to symbolize that the student section is standing behind the Highlanders as one. Highlander: a soldier of the Scottish regiment. A soldier, a warrior. Highlanders are fighters and always have been from the start. From Damaske and beyond, our school will always strongly be represented by the victorious symbol of the Highlander.

“There’s a million basic mascots out there, and there’s only one or two Highlanders. It’s kind of special and different, and people can identify with it,” Hutcheson says.