Team rivalries spark excitement


Ian Wesselholf, Multimedia Editor

The clock is running down and the home team is only one score away from winning. The anticipation is rising. Three…two…one…and that’s game!
High school sports have been part of American life for over a century. The concept of having a certain school be more important to beat than others, whether due to proximity or past games, has been around for most of that century. But school sports rivalries are as valuable now as they have ever been, according to Jon Pereiro, football coach.
“They give the opportunity for the players to experience a game that doesn’t necessarily mean more, but there’s a deeper meaning behind them because they’re rooted in tradition,” Pereiro said.
Rivalry games can raise the focus in a player, according to Stacey Evans, senior basketball player, and that results in a higher-quality event.
“When we’re playing a game against a team we really don’t like, it makes it way more intense,” Evans, said, “and it kind of makes me play better.”
The benefits do not stop at the players, though. Fans of the two opposing schools enjoy it as much, if not more, than the people out on the court or field.
“They [rivalry games] bring more competition, not only for the team but for the fans,” Gabe Jackson, senior, said.
Starting this season, two new schools have been added to the Southwest Prairie Conference: West Aurora and Yorkville. This introduction has changed several aspects of the school’s sports, including scheduling, and may have added an additional two rivals.
A true rivalry cannot spring out of nowhere, though. According to Pereiro, there are a number of factors that determine whether the next opponent will become a rival in the years to come, and it could be hard to tell if West Aurora and Yorkville will add to that list.
“Rivalries are created by tradition between the two schools. We’ve been playing the other three plainfields [high schools]since they became schools, so there’s history there, whether it’s by location or not,” Pererio said.
Nor are all school rivalries consistant across all sports. According to Jackson, rivalries often differ on a sport-t0-sport basis.
“Each school has a special team for one sport. Minooka’s good at volleyball. North’s good at football. They could be good at one sport and bad at another, and the rivalries are different because of that,” Jackson said.
Rivalries are good for the school as a whole, generating buzz about an upcoming game and in general making students even more excited for it.
“The feeling around the school leading up to a game like that can completely change your mood,” Alex Schoenly, senior, said.