WILLIAMSON – Every team logo has a story behind it.
Our logos become the personification of who we are as a team, how we are identified on the field of battle, who was the winner and who was the loser.
Team logos stand as an extract source of inspiration.
They unite groups and strike fear in the hearts of opponents.
From the smallest team to the largest, they have a logo to represent who they are as a team.
You can identify yourself as Warrior, a Pirate, a Wildcat, or a Miner.
One local man has found his niche in this necessity.
In 2012, Mingo Central High School was in its second year of existence.
The Miners were working on building sporting programs that would rival other larger schools in the state. They needed to combine Lion, Tiger, Wolfpack, and Bulldog talent under one name.
The school settled on a coal miner as their mascot, something that could bring everyone together. The image stuck and the team has not looked back.
The Miners needed to stand out, to make an impact in the sporting world they occupied. Other teams needed to know who was getting off that bus and who would be lining up in front of them.
Head coach Yogi Kinder laid that responsibility on the shoulders of a young Wes Wilson.
He exceeded expectations and has progressed every year.
Wilson recently unveiled the Miners 2016 logo on Twitter.
The reaction has reached a broader audience than Wilson expected.
The new logo now has 41,713 likes as of 2:17 p.m. last Friday. The dream in Wilson’s heart is still in its infant years, but its life is far from over.
“Yogi asked me back in 2012 to design the logo for the new helmets and jerseys. I jumped right in and everyone was pleased with how the designs turned out,” Wilson said.
Wilson has been a helping hand around the Miners sporting programs for a while now but his help is not owned by Mingo Central alone, he helps with many local schools and programs with a special affinity for the old Williamson Wolfpack.
Mingo Central was the beginning but Wilson has now designed logos for local schools like Chapmanville and (unofficially) River View.
“I also have another school that I can’t yet name because the coach doesn’t want anyone to know yet but it is a Cardinal Conference school and they will be playing Mingo Central this year,” Wilson said. That is what is so cool to me. Everyone on that field will be wearing something that I designed.”
Wilson’s graphic design of school logos has expanded out of state to places like Texas and North Carolina.
“It kind of all started when Yogi asked me to do the first helmet logo back in 2012, then all the other schools that would play us kept asking who did the logos and the word started to spread,” Wilson said. “The local branding began to grow with schools like Belfry Middle School and Burch Middle School, it has all led up to this year where I have San Antonio Christian which is one of the largest private schools in Texas, they have been a blast to work with and their colors are maroon and white so it really has been nice. I also have a school down in North Carolina located in Elizabeth City which is right before you get to the Outer Banks, they have a mean looking logo and its really neat to be expanding out to these other schools.”
Wilson went into detail about what he has to do with the process of developing a team’s look.
“When a team or person sees one of my logos and they contact me, they ask for me to send them some mock-ups of a new design,” he said. “I only do the graphic design work. The printers that actually make these decals are somewhere up there of like $58,000, for an entry level model. What I do is; I’m in contact with a company in Wisconsin and they are one of about four companies in the country that specialize in lasting decals. They do the work for the University of Wisconsin. I come up with the graphic work and they input my design into their system and they print out the design. I have a good relationship with this company and they help a lot by sending out the finished product directly to the teams. That helps me a lot.
“The material being used is what makes the real difference. These smaller companies make a product that is almost like a sticker. If a helmet brushes this thing once it’s ruined. The material used by the company I use is much better stuff, you would basically have to peal the paint off of the helmet to get these decals to come off. They are that strong.”
One of the big factors that has given Wilson so much momentum so fast is his willingness to dig deeper into the logo and customize it specifically to the team and what they stand for.
Plenty of programs below the college level share decal designs with other, more prominent teams.
A team with a name that begins with a ‘B’ may wear the design of the famous Boston red Sox’s ‘B’.
Wilson is able to customize a logo to better fit the team and its community.
Wilson recently completed a design for the North Marion High School football team.
“In the school song lays the phrase, ‘Nestled in the hills,’” Wilson said. “North Marion’s coach really liked that verse and he mentioned it to me, with the design I used the “hills” in the shape of a big ‘M’ and placed the Siberian Husky mascot standing on top of the ‘NM’ nestled in between the hills. They loved it and it was something I was really excited to unveil for this season.”
Wilson was also able to incorporate a lot of the elements of coal mining into the Miners logo.
From the sharp edges of a pick hammer to the light holding character featured on many of Wilson’s T-shirt designs. This year the Miners logo is set in the forefront with the shape of West Virginia in the back drop. People from West Virginia are proud of their state and their heritage. Wilson is one of those people.
“The tradition with Mingo Central is being non-traditional,” he said. “This has been one of the challenges of designing. I want to be bigger and better every year. We are getting to the point where this is the sixth year, I find myself setting in front of the computer screen for hours sometimes thinking about what to do. The thing that helps me with Mingo Central is I am from this area. I can appreciate what values, not just on the field but off the field that Mingo Central is trying to convey. Coal mining is such a big part of this state and we are lucky enough to be the team in the state to be called the Miners. It has really turned into a business thing for me because it has turned into a lot of hours and a lot of work.”
The work keeps Wilson busy.
“I spend eight to 10 hours a day now working on my designs,” he said. “I research the school I’m working for and I research the area around the school and the history. There is always a story behind the logo. Why they use those colors, why they chose that mascot. I believe you can always spot out the difference between a design that only looks good as opposed to a design that has a deeper meaning with the program and community.”
Wilson has found himself advancing his skills with the advancement of helmet safety technology.
The concept of “heads up” football has been sweeping the nation in the earliest levels of the sport.
The recent spotlight of head and spinal injuries has prompted coaches nationwide to start teaching players at an earlier age to play with their heads facing up to avoid injury.
As this new technique progresses throughout the sport of football so does the equipment being used. Helmets have evolved from two hole leather buckets with no face mask to the futuristic helmets you see on the field today.
“As the helmets progress with safety features my skills progress in the details aspect of my designs,” Wilson said. “Mingo Central has the Riddell Flex helmets this year, it is the newest model and it is very protective for the players head and neck. This is a little bit bothersome for the decal designer because now you have to work around all of these different features. On the new helmets there are three holes on each side rising up the cap of the helmet. The one on the front has really changed the game of helmet decal design because it wasn’t always there and everyone has had to adapt to that placement. The team I am working with in North Carolina will be using an over-sized decal that will stretch from the bottom of the helmet to the top and they will have to manually cut out the holes on the helmet to fit that design of helmet. Companies like Riddell take notice of designs that fit well with their helmet designs. I have received messages from them saying they liked my designs.”
Wilson has been growing in popularity with his helmet designs. He has even designed a new logo for the Cardinal Conference with the incorporation of new league members Logan, Nitro and Winfield to go along with the seven holdover schools.
Wilson is also known locally as a photographer but his helmet and jersey designs have given him a future he believes in. “Photography is a very broad thing,” Wilson said. “Here are tons of people around here that do photography. I know of only one other company in the country to produces products at my level, that is HGI. Hydro Graphics Incorporated is located in Eugene, Oregon. Their leading costumer is the Oregon Ducks.”
In the sport of football, the competition is no longer only on the field of play.
Schools want to stand out more.
They want to be noticed in a nation that is engulfed by the sport it has created.
With the rise in things like Fantasy Football and tournament style championships for the college circuit teams are looking to present themselves to the nation in the best possible way. Wilson is hoping that his exposure and following will continue to grow.
“The next step for me would be to start working with some collegiate teams. I would love to grow to that level but I want to grow in the right way. I would love to start working with local colleges like Glennville State, Fairmount State, AB. That would be absolutely great for me,” Wilson said.
This year Wilson added a warming touch to the Miners new helmets.
One that is felt by everyone involved with the program after the passing of Coach Kinder’s daughter to Diabetes.
On the back of the helmets will feature a ribbon to promote diabetes awareness, the symbols is said to be two inches tall and will be sure to be noticed.
“The helmets this year, for Mingo Central, were a big deal for me. Everything seemed to come together. We didn’t know it before but once we found out that the color for diabetes awareness is the same color blue as ours I had to step back and just take all of that in, it meant a lot to me. I put a lot of work into these and I wanted nothing more than for them to really mean something to the team and the community,” Wilson said.
(William plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] on on twitter @sidplaster.)