Discovering the history of WHS rivalries

WHS+takes+a+free+throw+against+Bedford+in+the+intense+2020+game+

Joy Saini

WHS takes a free throw against Bedford in the intense 2020 game

Sophia Simmons, Staff Writer

   Many WHS students who participate in school sports are aware of the obvious rivalries that different teams have with other school districts, but not the story behind them. While the origins of some of the rivalries are hard to trace, these rivalries have led to both healthy competition and occasional conflicts.

   The biggest and most prevalent rival for Weston is Wayland due to the long history between the two schools, including the 90-year tradition of the Thanksgiving Day football game.   

   “The Thanksgiving Day football games get current [and] former [students] and town folks to come [to the game] from both communities to support their schools’ teams,” WHS athletic director Michael McGrath said.

   This annual contest is a favorite among the student body due to the excitement it generates each November.

    “I think the Wayland rivalry is an important part of Weston’s school spirit, especially during the Thanksgiving game versus Wayland,” senior Natalie Ladocsi said. “Alumni come back to watch and also many families who have younger elementary school kids come to cheer on Weston.”

   This rivalry isn’t tied to just the Thanksgiving Day game, however.  It seems that almost every WHS sports team wants to beat Wayland. 

   “I would say every team has a rivalry against Wayland. There is not one sport where the rivalry is bigger. To each of the student-athletes that play these sports, the Wayland games are always circled on the schedule. It is always great to beat Wayland,” McGrath said.

   Another heated rivalry that stands out is against Bedford, sparked by a boys basketball game against them two years ago. Both Weston and Bedford had great teams at the time, which caused the gyms to be filled to capacity with an intense fan atmosphere. The growing rivalry led to one particularly disrespectful and almost violent contest between the two teams.

    “It was a very stressful game as a spectator, frustrating to see players blatantly fouling each other and referees not calling it. The vast number of loud, energetic fans only heightened the mood in the little gym” WHS parent Joy Saini, whose son was on the team, said.

    Not all teams share the rivalry with Wayland, however.  Weston’s co-op teams with nearby schools involve the need to work together with students from some rival towns for a range of sports: Wayland and Weston girls hockey, Weston and Dover-Sherborn boys hockey, and Waltham and Weston Nordic skiing.   

   Freshman girl’s hockey team member Elina Farber has found the Wayland rivalry is put aside when playing on the same team.

   “Everyone gets along really well, and it’s almost as if we all go to the same school. I think of the Wayland girls on my team the same as the Weston girls on my team. It’s not divided and everyone gets along with each other and knowing that we are rivals makes it kind of funny,” Farber said.

   With Wayland and Weston co-existing on the girls hockey team, Farber believes their overall rival is Waltham.

   “Earlier this season we beat them 2-0 which was the first time we beat them in a while, but then later in the season we lost to them,” Farber said.

   Farber is not the only one who sees her team as one rather than the two towns.

   After starting crew in the eighth grade and participating in 11 seasons, senior Lucian Mahoney became one of the  crew captains this year. Like Farber, Mahoney agrees that both combined teams have a great team dynamic and aren’t affected by members being from rival schools.

   “In my opinion, I don’t see the team as Weston and Wayland members; rather we are a cohesive team with a like-minded goal and focus to win and have fun,” Mahoney said.

   Mahoney believes that the combination of kinds on the rowing team really helps drive them to success. 

   “Without our combined team, we wouldn’t be able to have the numbers or the funding to row at major regattas like regionals and nationals in Florida,” Mahoney said.

   Students are not the only ones affected by these rivalries; teachers and coaches of Weston’s sports teams come face-to-face with rivals throughout their sports seasons.  Weston High school math department head and teacher Jim McLaughlin is the coach of Weston’s swim team.   Although the swim team definitely feels a strong rivalry with Wayland, McLaughin describes it as a positive one.

    “I’m friends with the coaches over there and I know some of the swimmers on our team, our friends with the swimmers on their team. We know them pretty well, but in some ways this makes the rivalry more fun,” McLaughlin said.