Chantelle DeRose/Recorder staff
The current ram statue outside of Amsterdam High School.
By CHANTELLE DEROSE
Recorder News Staff
This year’s homecoming celebrations fall on the 60th anniversary of the ram becoming the official Greater Amsterdam School District mascot.
Additionally, it is the anniversary for when the concept of homecoming was conceived.
Bert DeRose, a teacher and advisor of the student council in 1957, said school spirit was at the forefront of his mind when choosing an animal to represent what was then called Wilbur H. Lynch High School.
DeRose began thinking of animals that held their heads up high and exuded pride, saying the goal of educators should be to help every student see their potential.
“I wanted the kids to be proud of the school they went to and I wanted the community to share in that,” DeRose said. “We used to just be known as the Hilltoppers so I said let’s pick a real mascot. I figured Amsterdam is built on hills, so what about a ram?”
Amsterdam High School Hall of Fame Chairman and former Athletic Director and Coach Bob Noto said football-wise, the mascot meant a lot.
“A mascot gives a school an identity. It gives us something to rally around,” Noto said.
He said the mascot boosts school spirit as well.
“There’s a lot of school spirit with it, too — having someone dress up as the ram each year,” Noto said.
That same night the ram was chosen, DeRose said, the nickname for the mascot was also born.
“I went home and picked up the phone and called The Recorder,” DeRose said. “One of my best friends, Art Hoefs, was the sports editor.… I told him we picked the ram and he said ‘I’m going to call them the Rugged Rams’ and that’s how that came about.”
While Hoefs began calling the team the Rugged Rams, the name was not officially changed until 10 years later, in 1967.
“It all goes back to that ’67 team,” Noto said. “They played a really tough defense and that set the tone for our players.”
Steve Nolan, current athletic director at Amsterdam High School, said the mascot gives students a sense of pride.
“It gives the kids something to call themselves and have on their t-shirts and things like that. It’s just a sense of school and community pride,” Nolan said.
Nolan said the school district tries to work with everyone to instill a sense of accomplishment.
“With accomplishment comes pride in what you’re doing,” he said. “We recently had the gym floor cleaned up in here and resurfaced. We also got some new equipment for the track team this spring and we’re continuing to make improvements so the kids are proud of the facilities they have. That hopefully carries over into their performance and into the classroom where they’re proud to be a student and proud to represent the city of Amsterdam and hopefully they’ll be onto bigger and better things after they graduate.”
DeRose said in 1957, he and his colleagues also felt the school needed an event where alumni could return to Amsterdam for a celebration. This event would later be known as the annual homecoming game at the beginning of the school year.
At the time, DeRose said, fraternities and sororities existed at the high school and each contributed a float to the first parades associated with the day.
Now 85, DeRose said he enjoys hearing about the success the Rams continue to have.
“Every time the band plays, every time they have homecoming, every time I read in the paper that the Rams did something, I feel very happy,” DeRose said. “People will go to these games and wear a Ram hat or jacket or whatnot. It’s on the diplomas and yearbooks and everything. I’m very proud and very happy that it took hold.”
After 40 years of working in the GASD, DeRose said he is very satisfied to know the ram will live on as a symbol of school spirit.
“That’s my happiness. It all goes back to 1957,” DeRose said. “A fall day on the second floor of Wilbur Lynch High School. I can still see it now.”