NBHS athletes have worn blue and white strips on their uniforms in one fashion or another since at least the early 1880’s. Back then, and for many years thereafter, the hub city high school teams were simply referred to as “The blue and white.” This is documented in the ADVOCATE, which was the student literary periodical and newspaper from 1883 until the literary work was separated from the school newspaper in two separate format years later.
The ADVOCATE, from the turn-of –the century days, contains drawings of the basketball and football players wearing stripes. Since color was not used in these early issues of the ADVOCATE, all such pictures are black and white. This may be a clue connecting the stripes on the uniform to the stripes on a potential mascot. By the 1920’s the zebra would have been the logical choice for a school mascot, for this reason and for more significant ones.
In 1922, the ADVOCATE became strictly a newspaper; however, the following year it came out in a literary periodical format. The name of the new school newspaper in 1923, and for some years thereafter, was the ZEBRA. Back then a joke that became a classic one was going around: “What’s black and white and read all over?” Answer: “A newspaper" and: "What's black and white and red all over?" answer: An embarrassed zebras.” Hence, a logical name for a newspaper in the minds of the students. This is the earliest reference to a connection between NBHS and Zebras.
Sometime during the 1920’s the NBHS sports teams were referred to as the “Zebras.” The first time is still in question. In 1920, the football team was still referred to as “the blue and white,” in articles in the ADVOCATE. The same reference was made over and over again in sports team articles throughout the 1920’s. Also, the “Blue and white Club” was often mentioned.
It is also interesting to note that during this decade there were several athletes whose surname started with the letter “Z.” Among them were Zoller , Zablinski, Zimmerman, Zack, Zabolinsky, and even a “Zolky” Rossinsky. The “overuse” of the letter “Z” at this time just may have had an impact on the mascot decision.
In the April, 1927, issue of the ADVOCATE the first documented use of the mascot name occurred. In a basketball article about a tournament game won by NBHS over Battin High School, 33-23, this concluding reference was made: “ Not bad for the first game (of the tournament) but a little improvement wouldn’t go so bad. How about it Zebras? The mascot name was used twice more in ensuing articles about other games. The last one stated:" Nice work, Zebras. Keep it up!" After that the rest of the articles on games reverted to “the blue and white” reference.
Our mascot has been around for many decades and several generations. It has been displayed proudly on banners and such in our school and our community. The blue and white zebra is part of the great sports tradition here and the only such Zebra mascot in the United States. “Nice work, Zebras. Keep it up!”