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Illinois High School Football Team Suffers with Van Halen Logo

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by hearit

hearit's picture
In The News

Most of the United States has suffered through the Van Halen pre-game songs which tend to define high school football games as we know it--but students and football players at Illinois-based Vernon Hills High have got some additional suffering to endure: the 80’s band’s logo as its icon.

Flashback to the 80s—or, simply relive it through a Vernon Hills High School football game. When the Illinois-based football players take the field, football helmets and team uniforms are emblazoned with an extremely familiar "VH"—extremely familiar, at least, to those destined for teenage years when Van Halen rose to ‘fame’. Oh, the glory days.

Yes, the high school is known as “Van Halen High”—and, yes, it has taken the Van Halen logo as its own. Many might (understandably) wonder how, or why, that could possibly happen.

"I was looking for something that when people saw our helmet, they would know it was Vernon Hills football," says Vernon Hills high football coach, Tony Monken.

Hmmm…well, that recognition of Vernon Hills might have been skipped in the coach fulfilling his goal—but, at least he’s ensured the world can recognize and enjoy the logo of a band from decades past. Plus, Warner Bros is getting some free advertising out of the deal.

Monken, age 47, is (surprise, surprise) a big fan of the 80’s band known as “Van Halen”. Interestingly, however, the Vernon Hills’ football coach claims that the band that rocked the 80s never entered his consciousness--in his planning of the high school’s new team logo.

Monken says, instead, that a Virginia Tech national title football game in 2000, was the source of his “inspiration”—the coach deciding he wanted to make a Vernon Hills (VH) logo logo similar to the VT used by the Virigina “Hokies”. Apparently originality runs deep. The coach then swapped that idea, kind of, leaning toward Van Halen.

A Van Halen song had started to play during the Virginia Tech game, apparently providing Monken with what can only be dubbed ‘creative genius’. The world of advertising is apparently missing one of its key players.

Monken says he turned to his brother, the pair sitting at a restaurant together, with a “crazy idea” when Van Halen began playing. What an “idea” that turned out to be. Within minutes, the coach says, he’d sketched a logo that was essentially Van Halen with just a touch of Virginia Tech.

How original.

The Van Halen rip-off was embraced by school officials and the community--but Monken wanted to make sure the band was ‘ok’ with it. That type of thing is usually a good idea.

Vernon Hills school football uniforms were slated for production--when it dawned on coach Monken that maybe he should ask about “his” logo before emblazoning it on the new school’s uniforms. That’s the way to be ‘on the ball’, coach—wait until production time before receiving permission to use the property of another entity.
Monken told the media, "We were getting ready to put it [essentially the Van Halen logo] on our [Vernon Hills] helmets and uniforms when I said, 'Hold it, let's check to make sure this is OK before we get a letter saying we can't use this [Monken’s Van Halen logo lookalike]'". Gee, maybe that--or a letter informing all parties involved that they’re being sued for copyright infringement.

Warner Bros gave the ok for the Van Halen-“inspired” logo to be used by Vernon Hills High—after all, who can resist free advertising?

The rest is simply history—and possibly should have remained in that zone.

The Van Halen symbol was immediately recognizable and a big hit in the area—at least for parents."Van Halen High," coach Monken says. "We heard that all the time."

For awhile, the Vernon Hills coach admits, the high school did play into the Van Halen idea--allowing the band's music to be serve as part of the institution’s “‘identity”, an identity which appears to have been suffering a “crisis” from the get-go. "We played some of their [Van Halen’s] stuff during the [football] pregame warm-ups," says Monken.

And then, it seems, everyone got over it—or at least the students. “The parents [of the high school students] still embrace the connection [to Van Halen], but it's faded a bit for the kids over the years,” says Monken. Either the “connection” faded, or was never present. It’s not exactly surprising, that high school kids don’t connect with a band whose biggest hits fell in a timeframe of at least a decade before their births.

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