FOLLANSBEE - Although Follansbee High School closed more than 40 years ago, the pride the city has in the Blue Waves is evident. The history behind that nickname, however, is less clear.
Follansbee High School consolidated with Wellsburg and Bethany high schools to form Brooke High School in 1969. The building today houses Follansbee Middle School.
Lifelong Follansbee resident and current City Manager John DeStefano Jr. was a member of one of the first classes to graduate from Brooke High School. He said many members of his family graduated from Follansbee High School, and he would have as well, had it not closed. DeStefano was unable to offer an explanation behind the school's nickname though.
Although Follansbee High School closed more than 40 years ago, the city’s middle school carries on the nickname of the Blue Waves.
Photo by Tyler Reynard
"I've never even given it much thought," he admitted.
Wellsburg resident and Follansbee Public Library employee Linda Rosser did not know the source either. She offered, however, that one could question the logic behind any school mascot.
Many schools adopt animals as their mascots, such as the Oak Glen Golden Bears, and often one with a name that sounds similar to the school, such as the Brooke Bruins. Other schools take imposing figures like the Wheeling Central Maroon Knights, or rely on their history, like the Linsly Cadets.
The nickname of Pepperdine University teams is the Wave, but the school's campus is located minutes from the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, Calif. Tulane University identifies its teams as the Green Wave; its campus is in New Orleans, La. near the Gulf of Mexico.
Follansbee does sit on the banks of the Ohio River, but rivers do not naturally produce waves.
Nancy Deters was in junior high when the high school was consolidated. She still works in the building as Follansbee Middle School assistant principal. The school carries on the tradition of identifying its teams as the Blue Waves, but Deters was unable to explain the nickname.
Many pointed in the direction of one individual they thought would know the answer: former Follansbee mayor and current Mayor Emeritus Tony Paesano.
Paesano, a 1947 graduate of Follansbee High School, said he believes the school adopted the colors of blue and white from Columbia University in New York City. The blue wave was meant to give an image of an unstoppable force engulfing its athletic opponents, he described. But as for the source of the nickname, Paesano could not offer an answer with certainty either.
Bessie Eddy, a 1939 graduate of Follansbee High School, said she and her fellow schoolmates were also curious as to the origin of the nickname while organizing an all-class reunion in 2006.
Eddy, 90, was born in the Hooverson Heights section of the city and still resides there today.
She and others solicited opinions from alumni as to the origin of the nickname, and the most common response lie in the river. Eddy said many graduates offered that river traffic was high when the school was opened shortly after the conclusion of World War I. They surmised that watercrafts navigating the river created waves that washed over its banks, Eddy recalled.
She noted that explanation of the nickname was simply the most common one offered, and she has not been able to locate any certain reasoning behind the nickname in her research of city history.
Paesano said although Follansbee has not housed a high school in nearly 50 years, the city has continued to invest its pride in a younger generation of Blue Waves at the middle school. He also pointed out that throughout Follansbee, blue and white mark much of the city property.
"Absolutely, there's still that pride there," Paesano said.