PLAIN CITY, Weber County — If you thought Riverton was the home of the Silverwolves, you’re right.
But you’re also kinda wrong.
And if you thought Plain City was the home of the Silver Wolves, you’re wrong.
But you’re also kinda right.
Or at least you were.
If you’re confused, you’re not the only one.
Since Fremont High opened its doors in 1994, the school’s sports teams have been referred to as the Silver Wolves — two words, both uppercased — by Utah’s media publications. The Deseret News, the Salt Lake Tribune, the Ogden Standard-Examiner, TV stations, you name it.
And apparently for the last 25 years, all of Utah’s media publications have gotten it wrong.
They’re currently and have always been the Silverwolves — four legs but only one word — not the two-worded, four-legged Silver Wolves, the school politely insists.
Media outlets weren’t the only ones to get it wrong for a quarter of a century. Outsiders and even insiders — students and faculty — have made the same apparent mistake.
“This is making me crazy,” joked Fremont High principal Michele Parry (one L, two words).
A self-proclaimed “word nerd” and former journalism teacher, Parry is making a concerted effort to get everybody on the same page in terms of spelling her school’s mascot.
And for the record, that page includes Silverwolves written in just one word.
“To me, tradition here is really important,” Parry said. “Maybe it’s because I was one of the original teachers here, but I just thought we’ve got to get it the same — consistent — and we’ve got to get it what it was intended to be.”
Fremont has reached out to encourage local media to join the one-word party, but she’s also fighting the battle at the school.
While the front of the school has big white block letters on the red brick exterior to alert all that Fremont High is “HOME OF THE SILVERWOLVES” and that version is the most common form used in the school, there are some mixed messages.
The marquee at the entry of the school’s parking lot?
One of the scoreboards in the gym? Two words.
The large lettering above the mirrored wall in the weight room?
There’s a space between the sixth and seventh letters.
Banners on light posts around the campus?
Silver stacked on top of Wolves.
The administration has already made changes that are fiscally sound and will continue to do that, but a new $30,000 marquee isn't in the budget right now.
Parry’s mom was the head secretary when the school opened. She worked closely with the first principal on all the technical details, including the mascot being Silverwolves, not Silver Wolves. Parry held up a copy of the school’s first yearbook, and sure enough in a fancy silver font, it proclaims, “We are the Silverwolves.”
DeAnn Thorpe has been teaching at the school for all 25 years of its existence, and she agrees with her principal.
“It’s always been one word,” said Thorpe, who teaches dance and aerobics. “I’ve always done it as one. I think all the original teachers would have always done it as one.”
Not so fast.
Parry stopped another longtime faculty member, athletic trainer Don Carter, and asked him about the Silverwolves vs. Silver Wolves debate.
“Wasn’t it, when we first started, two words?” Carter said.
“One,” Parry insisted.
“Was it one word?” he asked, laughing.
“One,” she repeated, smiling. “Don’t quote him. Goodbye, Don.”
“Yes, it is the great debate,” he added. “One word or two words?”
Interestingly, a quick search on wolf.org — a website that sounds official enough to be considered the preeminent source of information for this investigative journalism piece — there isn’t even a species of Canis (how smart people say dogs) called silver wolves or silverwolves.
There are gray wolves (lupus) and red wolves (rufus). There are also coyotes, golden jackals, black-backed jackals, side-striped jackals, dingos, domestic dogs and Abyssinian or Ethiopian wolves, red foxes, gray foxes, kit foxes, swift foxes, arctic foxes and, yes, timber wolves and tundra wolves.
The Wolves of the World page on Cosmosmith.com lists the original 24 subspecies of wolves, but silver wolves and/or silverwolves (however you choose to spell them) are nowhere to be found. Fans of a certain popular HBO show will be happy to know there really were dire wolves in the ancient world, though.
A large study of North American wolf genomes in 2016 revealed that the gray wolf is actually the one and only species on the continent. The Eastern wolf and red wolf are mixes of gray wolf and coyote DNA, The New York Times reported.
“It’s not even a real thing,” Parry admitted with a grin. “It’s like a (Davis) Dart.”
Spell check, by the way, splits up the words silver and wolves when you type them together, if that means anything — and some grammar nazis will tell you it most certainly do. There’s also paranormal romance novel called “The Silver Wolf” (two words).
Oh, don’t get people at Fremont talking about how Riverton High copycatted the school two counties to the north when it opened in 1999. Parry would prefer if the Jordan School District institution would adopt the two-worded style to differentiate between the two even though it’s been the other way around in the public eye for so long.
“We are the one,” Parry said, good-naturedly. “We were here first.”
Nobody is quite sure how the discrepancy happened. The school's mascot first appeared in the Deseret News as Silver Wolves before the 1994 football season.
Fremont alumnus Brian Godfrey, whose basketball team has won the alumni tournament eight years in a row, said he’s noticed the media uses Silver Wolves but verifies that it’s Silverwolves.
“But we are just a bunch of rednecks,” he joked, “so I figured the media knew better than we did.”7 comments on this story
Godfrey humorously noted that the school would have had some different nickname problems had they been named the Bayside Buccaneers as almost happened.
“The school was destined for this type of drama,” he added.
The school's actual name isn't always spelled correctly, either. Explorer John C. Frémont might prefer if his namesake school used the accent on the e. Others falsely believe there are two Es.
Parry laughs about that misspelling. She has a drawer full of 200 "Freemont" keychains in the principal's office that were accidentally made.
On the bright side, the manufacturer did get Silverwolves right.