The Student News Site of West Haven High School

The Rostrum

The Student News Site of West Haven High School

The Rostrum

The Student News Site of West Haven High School

The Rostrum

West Haven High School Blue Devil Mascot: History Unmasked

Todd Dandelske
A Rostrum reporter has investigated why our school mascot is the Blue Devils.

During my four years at West Haven High School, one question kept coming to my mind: Why is the school mascot the Blue Devil? Well, nearly 80 years after the mascot’s inception, I have shined light on this mystery, and documented the Blue Devil’s storied history.

To understand my investigative journey, we must go to the beginning. There I was, sitting in my Italian 3 class as my classmates discussed different pieces of drama and personal anecdotes. When we settled on a personal story of mine, this sparked a question for all of us, “Why in the world is our mascot the Blue Devil?”

To start, I needed to ask myself, who would know about a subject like this? The first person to come to mind was Dana Paredes–a third-generation Westie, West Haven High School alumnus and our school principal.

When I met with Mrs. Paredes, her knowledge of all things West Haven didn’t let me down.

“There was a student reporter,” Mrs. Paredes said, “Legend has it his name was Joe Ciaburri.”

Suddenly, I had a name, and some information. Mrs. Paredes’ memory was that the Blue Devils mascot was first unveiled to the public post World War II. Prior to that the teams were unofficially known as The West Shoremen.

Pullquote Photo

So, in the end, I learned that The Blue Devil, West Haven High School’s mascot, had a storied 80-year history.”

— Ashton Gleed, reporter

Who was Joe Ciaburri? Was he real? How do you find someone you’ve never met? Those questions would have to wait to be answered, as the West Haven Historical Society had replied to my requests for information about the Blue Devil’s history, and they had reached out to me telling me what they’ve found.

I opened the email from the Historical Society, and I was shocked to find, they had found almost nothing.  Aside from an official date of the first Blue Devil appearance, cited in a 1945 West Haven High School yearbook.

I had to return to what I had: Joe Ciaburri. After a quick internet search of his name, I discovered that Joe Ciaburri passed away in 2020, according to an article about his work as a sports coach.

However in the same article, some still surviving relatives were referenced. The article said he was survived by a Mary Grace Ciaburri, who became my next lead.

After a brief search, I was able to get a hold of Mary Grace Ciaburri’s phone number, and in a phone call with her, almost everything was confirmed true. Joe Ciaburri had created the school’s mascot almost 80 years ago, she confirmed. The same Joe Ciaburri that Dana Paredes had spoken of, the same one in the article.

“They were talking about naming the team at the time,” Mary Grace Ciaburri said, “he came up with the Blue Devils.”

Mary Grace Ciaburri, his cousin, was not able to confirm certain aspects of the story, however, Mary Grace Ciaburri pointed me in the direction of Dino Ciaburri, Joe Ciaburri’s brother. He would prove to be the final element of this mystery.

I spoke with Dino in a late night phone call, he had much to say, tidbits of Westie history, personal anecdotes, and that all of what I had heard up to this point was true.

“[Joe] was at a game somewhere,” Dino Ciaburri said, “He saw this Blue Devil and it really caught on for him. He decided he would nickname them the Blue Devils.”

This corroborated with what Dana Parades had told me previously, that Joe Ciaburri was a fan of Duke University, as Duke University’s mascot is a Blue Devil as well.

I also learned that not only was Joe Ciaburri a fan of the Blue Devils, he also was a reporter for this very school newspaper, The Rostrum. I’m sure he’d love that his name is still appearing in The Rostrum generations later.

So, in the end, I learned that The Blue Devil, West Haven High School’s mascot, had a storied 80-year history. Joe Ciaburri, The West Shoremen, and Duke University. This town I had been growing up in suddenly came alive as I realized this is a place that truly has existed for a long time now.

I also realized I’d be the first to put this story to paper. The story of a local go getter, who was so involved in high school and life as a whole, a man who was energetic and involved, a whole life outside my own. The story of Joe Ciaburri.

–Ashton Gleed is a 2023 graduate of West Haven High School.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Rostrum Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *