Astros, Rockets and Space Pioneers on the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing and Walk

apollo 11

To honor the brave men of the Apollo 11 moon landing, I thought it would be fun to look at high schools that carry nicknames that are connected to space travel.

I start with the most popular name — the Rockets. 108 schools carry that moniker, according to the websites High School Nicknames.

Four high school football teams are known as the Astros — East Clinton (Ohio), Frederick Douglass (Georgia), Pinkerton Academy (New Hampshire) and Shepard (Illinois), which is named after Alan B. Shepard, the first American astronaut to travel into space. Shepard actually graduated from Pinkerton in 1940. The school named its teams the Astros following the original 1961 space flight. The high school’s mascot is “Astro Man” and buildings on-campus are named after him.

For those of you wondering about the word itself — Astronaut gets the “astro” from the Greek word astron, meaning “star,” making an astronaut a “star sailor.”

Then there’s John Glenn, the first astronaut to orbit the earth. There are several schools around the nation named after him, including Glenn High School in Westland, Michigan that is known as the Glenn Rockets.

In Florida, Astronaut High School was opened in 1972 in Titusville, near the John Kennedy Space Station. The football program, known as the War Eagles, has produced two NFL players — Chris Collinsworth and Wilbur Marshall.

Glenn was a high school football player at New Concord High School in Ohio. While the school did change its name to John Glenn High School, its nickname is the Little Muskies. Glenn played center — just like Buzz Aldrin did at Montclair High in New Jersey — and linebacker on New Concord’s varsity team.

Related: Buzz Aldrin, a New Jersey high school football player

And, we end with the Space Pioneers from Northwest High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. The school was built in 1962-63, adopting the nickname as a reference to America’s man-in-space program.


About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.