Niles Red Dragon Story
Ward — Thomas
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did the Red Dragon school name originate.
the 1920s most of the Niles City School Board members had a Welsh
background. Some consider that the dragon symbol comes from the
national flag of Wales.
Left is the story from the January
18, 1934 Niles Daily Times newspaper in which the very first "Red
Dragons" reference is made. "Niles teams have been nicknamed
the Red Dragons. They earned the title by their record so far
and will be out to better establish their grounds to such a title
One story is that a visiting basketball
team player watched the Niles Basketball team do 'The Weave' in
warm-ups and said, "they move like a Chinese Dragon in a
There is never any other mention
of the origin, either in newspapers, school newspapers or yearbooks.
There is much speculation as to why the Red Dragons..... Most
common is the earlier-referenced Wales connection.
In 1998 when Niles was preparing
its 100 years of high school football celebration, I contacted
several individuals who were students in the mid-1930s. None
of them knew the origin, and no one specifically remembered
the Wales connection being brought up until many years later.
Larry Pallante, who graduated
in 1928 and later went on to serve as a teacher and AD at Niles
was at the 1998 celebration. He too told me that he never remembered
hearing the Welsh connection until many years later. There was
also speculation that Niles chose the fire-breathing dragon
as a mascot to honor its original name, Heaton's Furnace. Again,
nothing but pure speculation.
My best guess is that the Dragon
was randomly chosen because of its fierce demeanor / reputation.
The "Red" was added simply because it was already
established as a school color. Most schools had school colors
before they had mascots.... So when you see "Blue Devils",
"Blue Jays," "Purple Riders, "Green Arrows,"
the colors were just added to the nickname because of previously-established
In a way, I think it is neat that
there is mystery behind origin of the Red Dragons nickname.
By: Steve Ruman, Niles Ohio.
1910s and 1920s the Niles McKinley yearbook was called the 'Nisean'.
Later yearbooks began to use the Dragon image
on ther covers.
The cover of the 1940 Niles yearbook shows the
image of the dragon that was used in school publications and sports
teams at that time.
There have been many different Dragon images
in school publications and on sports team uniforms.
Currently, the Niles Red Dragon image that is
in use is shown above with details in white with a bright red
Original 1966 Dragon outline drawn
by Valerie Nykula.