Rivalry runs deep in school sports

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Rivalry runs deep in school sports

Jimmy Ray Stagg, Web Features Editor

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He steps up to the line of scrimmage, directly across from his defender, as the crowd roars from both sidelines. He looks up, scanning his defender, with his eyes coming to rest on the bright red cardinal emblazoned on the side of the helmet. He looks back to his quarterback, and shoots him a nod. With a quick snap, he takes off down the sideline, a blur of navy blue and white, determined to beat his crimson-clad competitor. When the play ends, with Staples six points for the better, he stares into the eyes of his defender with a fearsome look that can only be born out of intense rivalry.

Regardless of the sport, there are always certain teams, certain games where there is a heightened sense of competition, a higher drive to win.

“When playing a team like Greenwich, you are always a little more pumped-up because you realize this is one of the biggest games of the year,” Nick Ward ’14, a football captain, said. “And you don’t ever want to lose to Greenwich.”

Each person has his own definition of what makes another team a rival. Some, like Nick Vega ’14, a varsity infielder for Staples baseball, think that it’s purely based on a team’s past performance. Others, like Rob Vallone ’14 find it much more personal than performance.

“I definitely approach games against Trumbull much differently than any other team in FCIAC. The baseball team has some bad blood with them, and I certainly have something to prove against them,” Vallone said. “Both teams hate each other for different reasons and the games are definitely very heated, especially since they won FCIACs and knocked us out of States recently”

Even though a  personal rivalry can motivate and inspire better playing, Gabby Perry ’16, varsity softball and basketball player, thinks that making it too personal can make it an issue. “It can get to you if you let it. Sometimes you just want to beat [the other team] so badly that it gets in your head and affects the way you play,” Perry said.

For some, Trumbull is the enemy. For others, its Greenwich. Some coaches have decreed that ‘Red is the enemy,’ meaning any team wearing red uniforms (Greenwich, New Canaan, Masuk) are the enemy to Staples’ navy blue.

Each team has tendencies and certain attributes to which they are known for, which contribute to their reputations.

“I can’t stand Trumbull, but I will admit that they might have the best turnout for all sporting events,” Vallone said. “Not only are there a lot of them, but they are loud and in your face and it is obvious that the Trumbull players feed off of the crowd’s energy and definitely have a solid home field advantage.”

Staples is not exempt from these reputations. “I think Staples has a good reputation, and from a football standpoint I think our team over the past several years has been a team to beat,” Ward said. “We produce. We don’t lose that often. I think the football team has done this through wonderful coaching from Coach P. and his staff.”

With a light-hearted look at the matter, Bryan Porter ’14 added, “Staples without a doubt has a reputation for the best looking kids. Other towns want to be like us and often end up hating Staples out of jealousy.”

Although the winter sports and the winter rivalries are closing for the year, spring rivalries are blooming anew with the fresh aroma of hatred in the air. It’s now time for the white-clad Wrecker to take the mound, stare down a black and gold Trumbull eagle with that same fearsome look, and blow a fastball right by him.

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