BY JEFF FALK
So, what’s in a name? Or better yet, what’s in a nickname?
While the origin of Lebanon County’s scholastic nicknames is a bit murky, they clearly came from a colorful past. With the exception of the Lebanon Cedars, the Lebanon Catholic Beavers and the Annville-Cleona Little Dutchmen, no other Lebanon County high school nickname can be considered ‘original’.
At least that’s been the fidnings of Lynn Levengood, a 70-year-old Quentin resident who insists he only has a passing interest in local sports history.
“I was at a local basketball game and someone said, ‘What was the nickname of South Lebanon High School?’,” said Levengood. “So I wanted to know and I discovered it was the Ionians. I did some research, I made about 100 to 125 calls. I had a great time doing it.”
At one time, Lebanon County was home to about a dozen – not seven – high schools, and each had it’s own distinctive nickname. For instance, have you ever heard of the Cornwall Miners? The Newmanstown Navajos? The Jonestown Indians?
“I’m from that era,” said Levengood, who was a ‘Baron’ growing up. “I went to Heidelberg High School (in Schaefferstown) and played sports there.”
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, several local high schools combined – in some circles know as the ‘jointures’ – and the Cedar Crest Falcons, Elco Raiders and Northern Lebanon Vikings were born. Before becoming the Cougars, Palmyra High School was known as the ‘Palms’.
“In Jonestown, some the of creeks have Indian names,” said Levengood. “The Barons, the (Myerstown) Mohawks and Navajos combined to become the Raiders. In Cornwall and South Lebanon that happened too. If they would’ve kept one of the old names, there would’ve have been a lot of unhappy people. So they came up with new ones.
“It’s just something I picked up on,” Levengood concluded. “I talked to a lot of people. I’m not a history buff. I’m more of a pain-in-the-butt guy.”
What follows is a list of Lebanon County scholastic nicknames, past and present:
Cedar Crest Falcons
South Lebanon Ionians
Lebanon Catholic Beavers
Heidelberg Township Barons
Annville-Cleona Little Dutchmen
Northern Lebanon Vikings
(Editor’s note: This piece originally aired on www.lebanonsportsbuzz.com on May 25, 2011. It was reprinted with permission.)