In 1876 a prison opened in Yuma, Arizona. It was called the Territorial Prison because Arizona was not yet a state. The prison was in operation for 33 years until it was finally closed due to overcrowding in 1909. All the prisoners were transferred to Florence, Arizona.
New school district
Also, in 1909, Yuma established a school district and Yuma High School began. Needing a building for the new high school students and teachers, the old prison seemed like a perfect fit.
So, in 1910 Yuma High School was housed in the old Territorial Prison complex. They remained in the prison for the next four years until a new school was built. During this time they used the prison buildings pretty much as they were without modification. Thus, students actually studied and took classes in the prison. Sometimes my high school felt like a prison, but there weren’t bars on the windows.
Phoenix players called them criminals
During this time the Yuma High School football teamed played in Phoenix against the “coyotes”. Yuma won the game and the Phoenix players began calling them the “criminals”.
At first this angered the Yuma students, but as time went on they came to be proud of the name. Students and teachers adopted the name. Then in 1917 the school board made “criminals” the official nickname of the school.
They’re still criminals in 2016
To this day, Yuma High School students and players are known as the criminals. Their student store is called the “Cell Block”.
I’ve not yet been to one of their football games, but I’ve been told their mascot dresses up in a striped uniform as a prisoner.
Personally, I think this is all great. Today people are too concerned about being politically correct in everything they say and do. We’ve all heard about various teams having to change their names or colors because someone finds them offensive. This even happens in the NFL.
Arizona is a free state
I love Arizona because of the freedom to be yourself. It’s nice to just relax and do what you enjoy without constant legal battles over insignificant things. If Yuma High School enjoys being known as the criminals, more power to them. I proudly wear one of their football shirts, even though I never attended there.
People in this country need to start figuring out how to get along with each other. Don’t be so easily offended. Life on this earth is short. We need to enjoy our time as best we can and let others be themselves.