When the Dakota Rapids take the ice next season, they’ll be doing so under a different name. Team owner Roger Scott revealed on Friday that starting in the 2017 season, the Rapids will be known as the Dakota Jackalopes.
“This has always been Dakota’s team,” said Scott. “We’ve always looked for ways to increase our ties with the local community. But when I’ve talked to our fans, both in the arena and out on the street, they’ve told me that the name ‘Rapids’ didn’t really resonate with them. It felt a little too generic. So I thought: what says Dakota better than a jackalope?”
Although the first jackalopes originated in Wyoming in the 1930s, they quickly spread to South Dakota and have been a mainstay of local folklore ever since. While the actual creature can be elusive, mounted heads and jackalope-themed merchandise can be found all over the state. Perhaps the most famous example is the giant jackalope statue located at Wall Drug.
“I expect the new name to be a big hit,” said Scott. “If you don’t love the jackalope, you have no heart.”
Along with the name, Scott unveiled the team’s new logo – a roundel with a leaping jackalope in the center – as well as new uniforms. The new unis retain the crimson and cream from their previous color scheme; however, green is no longer present in the team’s uniforms or logo. The new threads also retain Dakota’s triple-stripe motif. The leaping jackalope crest is prominent on both home and road uniforms.
“Our old uniforms were too busy and didn’t establish a consistent look,” Scott noted. “We wanted something clean and fresh, while still being traditional and tied to our old look.”
Star LW “Flyin’ Ryan” Airston, who modeled the new home jersey at the event, is excited about the new name. “To me, it’s the perfect name,” said Airston. “Jackalopes are fast but ferocious, just like us. They look cute from a distance, but you don’t want to mess with them up close. Plus, you all know how I feel about bunnies, and the jackalope is a close cousin. I love it!”
G Christien Adamsson, modeling the road jersey, shared Airston’s enthusiasm. “It’s a name that’s perfectly local,” said the South Dakota native. “The fans here will go crazy for it.”
The defending SHL champion Michigan Gray Wolves, one of Dakota’s rivals in the West, issued a press release congratulating the Jackalopes on their new name. “We look forward to doing battle with the Jackalopes next season,” read the release. “We’re sure there’s no truth to the rumor that Dakota’s odds of winning the Vandy are slimmer than the odds of finding a jackalope in the wild.”