FERGUS – Starting this season, Centre Wellington minor lacrosse teams will use a new logo and will be known as the Riverhawks.
“Changing our name was simply the right thing to do,” states a Jan. 19 press release from the Centre Wellington Minor Lacrosse Association (CWMLA).
The organization announced one year ago that it was dropping its Mohawks moniker and logo and was seeking input from the public on rebranding the team.
At the time officials noted the Mohawks team name was intended to honour Indigenous peoples who invented the sport of lacrosse hundreds of years ago, but the name and logo “may no longer accurately reflect the honourable intention it originally had.”
The Jan. 19 announcement stated the decision to change the name, “was not taken lightly” by the organization.
“It was spurred by a 2019 decision by the Ontario Human Rights Commission with regards to the use of Indigenous names and logos in the city of Mississauga,” states the release.
“Following that decision, the commission wrote to 40 different municipalities advising them of the harmful impact of Indigenous-themed sports logos in municipal facilities.
“The commission further advised municipalities of the harmful impact of stereotypes on Indigenous youths.”
The decision to change the CWMLA team name and logo was actually made by the executive in November of 2019.
It was kept quiet for over a year while the organization worked behind the scenes on the logistics of the change, including the cost to replace jerseys for over 400 players without passing on the increase to players’ families.
Over the last two-plus years the organization has looked “far and wide” in a search “that included two different consultations for not just a name, but something they could turn into an iconic brand,” the release states.
Officials say the new name “pays homage to our past while providing us with a new name unique in lacrosse circles as well as the local sports community.”
“I like it,” CWMLA president Nathan Joyes said of the new name and logo, adding early feedback on the rebranding has been “very positive.”
Joyes told the Advertiser he was a bit sceptical during an early meeting but once he saw the new design he was “really excited.”
The logo, he explained, was designed by NexGen Marketing Group in Fergus. And the name was submitted “from the community” and was “the clear winner” in community polls, he added.
The Riverhawks moniker is a nickname for ospreys, birds of prey that are known to reside along the Grand River throughout Centre Wellington Township.
“With focus group testing, we know that the colours and imagery will inspire our teams to strive to be the best,” Joyes noted in an online statement.
“The piercing eyes of this predatory bird will give our opponents pause before taking us on.”
Joyes said new Riverhawks jerseys are currently being designed and CWMLA officials plan to have a new jersey for all players this summer.
“The biggest challenge was to be prepared funding wise,” he said of the rebranding.
He noted the organization’s sponsoring partnerships will help offset the cost of new jerseys – and officials are still seeking community support.
“We want to try to tug on some heartstrings,” Joyes said.
The CWMLA is also looking forward to opening registration for the 2022 season as soon as the Ontario Lacrosse Association finalizes details.
The organization has also unveiled a new website: cwminorlacrosse.ca.