Former Boyle football player says now is time to change the mascot

Published 9:53 am Monday, July 27, 2020

Pete Kendrick is a proud alumnus of Boyle County High School and cherishes his days playing football for Boyle County High School in the mid 1980s. 

He said that’s part of the reason why his decision to support the removal and replacement of the BCHS Rebel mascot was not easy. 

Kendrick, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corp, graduated from BCHS in 1986 and spent his time there as a proud member of the football team, which has extended through his family as he has had children play for the program as well. 

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“Few people love Boyle County High School as much as I do,” Kendrick said. “Few people love Boyle County football as much as I do. I’m a Boyle County guy all the way. I love the school. Anything they ever need from me, I try to help.” 

With that said though, Kendrick said he believes it is time to replace the Rebel mascot. 

“I worked, as many others did, a lot of hours trying to help the school and the football program,” Kendrick said. “I hate to think of losing that name, but I think it’s the right thing to do.” 

This wasn’t a conclusion that was easy to arrive at for Kendrick. 

“I didn’t shed a tear over it, but I tell you what, I made myself sick thinking about it,” Kendrick said. “The thought of former teammates and former coaches being upset about it really kept me from bringing it up a lot sooner than I did, but all I can do is what I can do.” 

Kendrick said the ties to the Confederacy have been displayed for several years in the school’s history, although he added that he doesn’t know of any displays that exist within the school now. 

“We had the little Confederate soldier on a lot of things,” Kendrick said. “If you look at my class ring, and look down in the stone, the little guy is down in there. I remember paying an extra $20 or something to get that in there and at the time, it just didn’t seem like a big deal.” 

Over the years, Kendrick said, the school has taken steps to remove ties to the Confederacy such as when they decided to no longer name the school newspaper “The Confederate” and when the school changed its logo from the Confederate soldier to a more generalized, silhouetted image of a soldier on a horse. 

He said many people now are not familiar with the connections that the school has had to the Confederacy in the past.

“You know, I keep hearing a lot of people say that they’ve never even thought of the name Rebel as being connected to the Confederacy, and it hasn’t been for a while,” Kendrick said. “I’ve had two kids graduate from Boyle and one that will be a senior this fall, and I asked them if they knew that the school’s mascot was once a Confederate soldier. They all said no.” 

Kendrick said the connection the school once held to the Confederacy is undeniable. He remembers a football season in the 1980s in which the team had a Confederate flag decal on their helmets. It was only for one season, he said. 

“I don’t know how that conversation came about, but I just remember them throwing one in every locker and telling us to put them on our helmets,” Kendrick said. “I’ve thought of my African-American teammates having to wear that and not saying anything about it… 

I think back now and wonder why they didn’t fuss, but if you’re three of 60 players on the team, and only six or seven Black students in the whole school, if you speak up you might catch a whole lot of crap for it and be called a troublemaker or something like that. I think about it now and it just makes me sick to my stomach. I guess you get older and get wiser, but those teammates, I would have fought and got locked up to defend them. I think they knew that. When I think about it now, you know, revisionist history is always easier. I just wasn’t worried about it at the time and it didn’t seem like a big deal.” 

As he looks back now, Kendrick said he thinks it would be different if the displays of Confederate imagery through the school only lasted a year or two. However, it lasted much longer than that.

“You know, maybe if they would’ve made a lot of changes after just a year or two, it would be a different story, but that went on for a long time,” Kendrick said.

Kendrick, however, stopped short of saying that he believes the school intentionally aligned itself with the Confederacy when it was formed.

“I just haven’t found evidence of that,” he said. “I’ve received a lot of messages from people who supported my opinion and plenty from people who were angry that I posted something about it. I have yet to find hardly anyone who has said or even implied that it was always supposed to be in connection with the Confederacy. I just don’t believe it was and I can’t find the evidence. I believe somewhere in the late 70s or into the 80s, somebody decided to start making that connection or connecting them together and it just lasted too long to be able to keep the name. That’s my opinion.” 

Kendrick said a post on Facebook he wrote on July 2 where he detailed his thoughts on the issue garnered a wide range of responses. In total, the post had nearly 300 comments. In at least one of them, Kendrick said someone accused him of wanting to erase history. 

He said that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

“I absolutely don’t want to erase history,” Kendrick said. “I think the [Confederate] flag and Jefferson Davis, I think we need to know who they were, what they were, and why they were. It needs to be in museums and in writings and things like that. I don’t believe statues were made to write history. I believe statues were made for adoration. I don’t want to erase it. I just don’t want to honor it.” 

Kendrick said he realizes his stance on the issue may not be the most popular, and he understands those who disagree with his stance. 

“It’s certainly within their right to disagree, and I’m sure many of them do,” Kendrick said. “I’ve heard a few comments from former teammates who have disagreed but been very respectful about it and we’re still friends. They have the right to disagree.”