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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW | What's Happening: Snapshots
of what's going on as teams prepare for their openers
this week.

WHAT'S HOT / Bulldogs at Highland High

September 09, 1997

If you're looking for a school without spirit, you're barking up the wrong tree at Highland High, where mascot pride has gone to the Bulldogs.

Classroom walls are covered with Bulldog memorabilia. The coaches' office features more than 100 bulldog photographs, nine plaster bulldog statues and two stuffed animals.

"We're Bulldogs to the bone," said football Coach Lin Parker.

"When I first got here, I was in shock," said defensive tackle Mike Mattert, a recent transfer from Golden League rival Palmdale. "Even the principal's office is covered with Bulldog stuff."

Mattert and teammate Brian Roof (sounds like "woof") have made life-long commitments to the Bulldogs by having the mascot tattooed on their biceps.

"We don't encourage kids to get tattoos," Parker said. "But it's got to impress a coach when a player wants to wear that shield on their arm, even if your team's nickname is the Hummingbirds."

Planning is underway for Highland's first-ever home game Friday. The school is considering building a facade of a giant doghouse, out of which the players would take the field.

Parker is doggone happy that the school's mascot is a mutt.

"I always wanted to have my school's mascot as a pet," said Parker, who has two English bulldogs that strut the Highland sidelines on game nights. "When I was at Boron, it was kind of tough to bring home a bobcat."

WHAT'S NOT HOT / Braves at Birmingham High

Despite community support for a time-honored mascot, it appears Birmingham High will no longer be the home of the Brave.

Birmingham Principal Gerald Kleinman said the school intends to comply with a directive from Sid Thompson, former superintendent of the L.A. Unified School District, calling for the school to change its nickname within the next year.

Bowing to pressure from Native American groups, the district has deemed objectionable the mascots at Birmingham and two other L.A. Unified high schools because to some they depict Indians in a degrading manner.

For many graduates and supporters of Birmingham, losing a nickname that has been in place since the school opened in 1952 represents a loss of tradition and identity.

"In our community, there have been some repercussions," Kleinman said.

Kleinman said Birmingham will continue to use the Braves nickname for its athletic teams during the 1997-98 school year.

Early estimates indicate it will cost more than $200,000 for Birmingham to change mascots, including painting over an Indian mural near the school's entrance.

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