Ever since we started our South High Classics collection here at the bookstore, there’s one question that always comes up and stirs discussion amongst generations of Hawks and Hawkettes.

What color red is the right South Hamilton color of red? 

The best answer we can come up with is… depends on which era.

Let’s do a little deep dive with side of history and local fables.

South Hamilton was officially created in September of 1958 by special election to combine the Ellsworth, Jewell, Randall and Stanhope school districts. In 1961, the South Hamilton School Board approved the nicknames Hawks and Hawkettes for athletic teams… and the colors Red and White. Think Nebraska or Wisconsin red and white.

Hence the lyrics in the school fight song “Hail red and white” that go with the masterfully inspired arrangement by Max Whitlock to Karl King’s Great Plains March.

South High’s colors stayed this way for a while. Red and white jackets, shirts, caps and uniforms that would sometimes have a small amount of black trim, depending on the design. Then in the 1970s is when a legendary tale comes in to play.   

According to off the record accounts from alumni and teachers sourced from class reunions and conversations at local taverns on a Friday night or two, we’ve been told it all came down to an order form.

As the story goes, longtime athletic director Jim Marsh was making an order for much needed replacements of some team uniforms.

QUICK SIDE NOTE: Mr. Marsh is also credited for creating that good lookin’ Hector the Hawk we all know and love. The story goes is that he found a stock logo for a hawk mascot but thought it didn’t look big and tough enough. So, he drew in bigger muscles on that majestic bird strutting with South High pride creating one of the best identities in Iowa high school sports that has tested the time.

Ok, back to the colors.

In those days with uniforms and apparel orders, everything was done by a catalog from a supplier and an order form. No digital mockups or a website to create as we do today. So how did we get from a simple red to shades of darker, deep reds on the palette?

Checked the wrong box for red on the order form.

School budgets, and school athletic budgets for that matter, are always pretty tight. So instead of replacing the uniforms because of a mistaken order, they just ran with a darker shade of red. More like a burgundy. Over time, the other shades of the school colors actually got darker towards a maroon. The main reason here was a supply and availability issue that varied by which manufacturer the uniforms you ordered from and when it came to apparel, there wasn’t the wide variety of colors there is today.

Over the years, suppliers go out of business or discontinue certain textiles and styles. So, this would be the constant challenge for the school to find a burgundy or darker red that all match. That’s why if you look in your closet and find your old state tourney shirts, sweatshirts or your jersey… they all don’t match the same color red.

As the uniform and fan apparel industry evolved, starting somewhere in the 90s, so did the availability of more color selections. Eventually, the cardinal color was starting to become readily available by most manufacturers and that’s where South Hamilton has locked in on a particular color of a darker red. Similar to Iowa State’s cardinal or Alabama’s crimson.

As school administrators might tell you, it’s still a little bit of a Hunger Games to find the right color red or what’s available in particular style. But generally, it’s easier these days to find the color.

So, there you have it. The complicated history of South High’s school colors from hearsay and lore. Some may say it’s annoying that there’s so many shades of red. We say it’s a fun and unique story worth celebrating all the different eras of the people who roamed the halls of South Hamilton. And that is exactly the vibe we utilize to create the simple and vintage looks of our South High Classics collection.

Now, we ask you former Hawks and Hawkettes, which era of South High red are you?

Shop the South High Classics collection by CLICKING HERE.

And don’t forget to check out some old school headwear by CLICKING HERE.   

Have more to add to the history of the school colors? Drop a line to admissions@stanhopestate.com 

GO HAWKS! #fightonsouthhigh