WARNER ROBINS — Bryan Way has been through this before.
The Warner Robins athletics director and head football coach has heard objections about the school’s mascot and nickname — the Demon — at various times since he played for the school’s football team.
So when the topic came up again Wednesday following the objections of a Warner Robins’ pastor, Way calmly said the school’s mascot has no correlation to any religious views.
“It’s a mascot,” Way said with a chuckle. “We obviously don’t worship the devil. I don’t know anyone who worships their mascot, for that matter, whether it’s a bear or an eagle. I’m a Christian man. I go to church. Our school’s mascot has nothing to do with that.”
Donald Crosby, a Warner Robins resident at pastor at Kingdom Builders Church of Jesus Christ, told a local television station that he wanted to move his child to a different school because of the school’s mascot.
He was also organizing a petition to change the mascot.
Warner Robins principal Steve Monday said the issues has come up before in his seven years as principal. But he said it has never become a public issue.
“This isn’t the first time someone has brought it up, and it probably won’t be the last,” Way said.
The Warner Robins’ Demon is a red devil with horns and is usually holding a pitchfork in the murals and depictions around school. During football games, a large version of the mascot is wheeled out to behind the end zone. Following each Demons score, the statue shoots sparks from the pitchfork.
School officials said the mascot was named for the Air Force’s 7th Fighter Squadron when the school opened in 1946. The squadron was nicknamed the Screamin’ Demons.
Johnny Ellison, another local pastor and Warner Robins graduate, said he wouldn’t actively campaign for a mascot switch, but he wouldn’t be opposed to a switch.
“It’s one of those things if we were coming up with a new mascot today, I wouldn’t choose that one,” said the Green Acres Baptist Church pastor who played football for the Demons. “When I was at Warner Robins, (the demon’s negative connotations) never crossed my mind. I’m not any less supportive of the school because of the mascot. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings if they changed (the mascot).”
Ellison said he thought there were too many other issues more critical like “ministering the kids” then tackling the mascot issue. He also said he was proud of his alma mater.
Monday said the school won’t change its mascot and he has the board of education’s backing on that.
Warner Robins isn’t the only school in the state with a demon or devil as a mascot.
Hawkinsville’s teams are the Red Devils, which also serves as the mascot for Lincoln County, Bowdon, Druid Hills, Jackson, Loganville and Randolph-Clay.
Avondale, Bremen, Columbus, Elbert County, Manchester, Marietta, Model, Norcross, Statesboro and Tift County are the Blue Devils.
Warren County is the Screaming Devils.