During 1967-68, a new Ann Arbor High School was being constructed and there was a problem. The school that was to be Huron did not yet have a mascot.
Before the school even opened, Ann Arbor High students who were not going to be relocated to Huron came up with the nickname "River Rat". They used the name as a joke to refer to their newly rivaled classmates who would attend a school built on the Huron River and near an old medical waste site. But the Huron students turned the joke around, and they, too began referring to themselves with pride as River Rats.
Administration felt differently about their issue of the River Rat. Huron's first principal, Paul Meyers, had an especially strong dislike of rats after bad experiences with them as captain overseas during World War II. So the nickname was ignored for the most part, and when Huron's construction finally completed, "River Rat" did not appear to be in the running as mascot.
When Huron was opened in 1969, its mascot was intended to be the Huron. However, this mascot did not draw much enthusiasm or support from the students, and shortly after its opening, Huron had a write-in student ballot to determine a few choices for a possible alternative. Several of the more popular choices, including the Highlanders, the Hawks and the Indians, were put on a ballot during the student elections that year. The River Rat never made it to that ballot.
However, none of the listed mascots could muster up fifty percent of the votes and student kept writing in "River Rat" instead of selecting a given choice on the ballot. Huron went several years without a mascot, during which time local newspapers started referring to Huron sports teams by the old nickname. Baseball players became Bat Rats and wrestlers became Mat Rats.It was the media that validated the name River Rats.
Over time, the name eventually stuck and became ingrained in Huron's history.