South Milwaukee High School Sports
How the “Red Rockets” Got Name?
By Nels J. Monson
When you think South Milwaukee sports, everybody thinks ”Rockets”, right? If you, however, would have graduated from good ol’ SM High before 1938 you would have spent your time cheering for the South Milwaukee “Cardinals” instead. Headlines in the February 18, 1938 issue of the local newspaper, the South Milwaukee Journal, proclaimed that “ ‘Red Rockets’ Is New Name for High School.” So, what events prompted this change? According to the Journal, most notable was the fact that Suburban Conference rivals Wauwatosa High School were also known as the Cardinals. This led to some confusion for area sports writers. The new name was immediately adopted.
The high school newsletter, The Harbinger had this to say of the new choice of names: “It’s spirited! It has possibilities for dance themes, class jewelry, and athletic emblems! It signifies speed, pep, and vitality! It’s new and different!”
Not to be outdone, The Journal added their own two-cents worth regarding the change, “Might we add that the name is typically modern with talk of rocket airships in coming transportation methods.”
“Red Rockets” was chosen by the students in a contest conducted by the high school’s “cooperative government.” Interestingly enough, the name change took place during the basketball season. Also, Wauwatosa decided to switch names to the “Red Raiders” around the same time. With that, the Suburban Conference went from two teams going by the name “Cardinals” to none.
Fittingly, the last mention of the old name also appeared in the February 18 issue of The Journal when it reported that Coach F. Clark Van Galder’s Cardinals beat Whitefish Bay at home 36-30.