Mustangs, Fillies and the bigger issue: What’s their history?



October 31, 2019 - 10:04 AM

I commend this student (Allie Utley) for raising a question that has started many conversations. If she is seeking a future in journalism, she will go far with her inquisitive nature.

The student’s question has brought forward a couple of topics that I would like to touch upon. Before I share my thoughts on her article, I think it is important that I pose my own question. Can Marv the Mustang continue to be the name of Iola’s mascot? Marvin Smith was a truly great teacher and I understand an inspiring coach.  He deserves to forever hold a place in Iola’s history.

In full disclosure, my opinion on this matter stems from my childhood memories. I grew up in Iola and was a Mustang myself, although not what I would consider an athlete. My athletic “career” ended after freshman year when I came to the logical conclusion that my time was better spent practicing color guard than sitting on a bench.  

First, I completely agree that it makes sense to unite all levels of learning underneath one mascot, the Mustangs. This would cast off the unnecessary Ponies and Colts subsets. By doing so, the elementary and middle school students will be united with the high school.  Watching high school games will make that third-grader feel just a little more connected to the students they are cheering on and will all too shortly become. Not to mention, they will learn and use the same cheers from a very young age.

My second thought in writing this article addresses the more controversial topic of Mustangs vs Fillies.  As the student explained, Mustangs are a breed, while Fillies are young females.  Therefore, logic would lead us to conclude that Fillies ARE Mustangs. The distinction between Mustangs and Fillies is not a slight against the female athletes. It is only a distinction to prevent confusion, as well as give our female student athletes a chance to shine with their individual talents.  Using the Fillies moniker is an easy way for newspaper articles, announcers, and community members to distinguish the athletes in their communication. Both the female and male athletes (and students) fall within the Mustangs umbrella. However, instead of going by “Lady” Mustangs, as is common with several area schools, the community long ago decided to separately distinguish our female counterparts as Fillies.

With that, I want to ask one more question. Can The Iola Register write an article on the history of our majestic mascot? The student mentioned in her article that she was curious to know the history behind our mascot, and I second her desire. I think the town needs to know the history. Furthermore, the history of the Mustangs would make a nice piece of artwork to hang in each of our schools. I’ll even donate the frames needed.

While my opinions could be twisted as a reluctant alumnus that doesn’t like change, I would like to point out that I’m a practicing CPA.  I deal with change daily, whether from tax law changes or constantly evolving technology.  I really hope the community rallies behind a tradition that I’m proud to have grown up in and decides to keep the Fillies title.  While I no longer live in Iola, it will forever be my home. I wish that the current and future students will always feel united.  And that they aren’t afraid to voice their opinions to the community. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts on this matter.  I look forward to the continued discussion and the school board’s decision.

Jessica Carr (Berntsen),

Graduating Class of 2008,

Joplin, Mo.


Editor’s note: 

To read Allie Utley’s column, “What’s in a mascot’s name, anyway” go to’s-mascot’s-name-anyway