by Molly Bandelli and Erin Malley
A sea of royal blue consumed the fan section of not only Westfield’s homefield, Kehler Stadium, but also the Scotch Plains-Fanwood bleachers on Sept. 19. Overflowing with WHS spirit, students were anything but quiet with constant cheering and chanting, as they took on their rivals for the first time this season during the school’s second annual SPF Rivalry Day, a series of varsity games against SPF. The rivalry continues tonight with the Pink Out volleyball games at WHS.
An aversion to SPF is drilled into the heads of all WHS students from the moment they begin their freshman year. Everyone knows they are the rival town, but no one knows exactly when the rivalry began. “As long as I can remember, I’ve been told to dislike Scotch Plains and go against them,” said senior Billy Cook, a forward on the varsity soccer team. “They’re the town next to us and we always want to beat them.”
According to patch.com, the rivalry began on the football field back in 1901, but has continued throughout the last century. Supervisor of Athletics Ms. Sandy Mamary said the rivalry was just as big when she started working at WHS 28 years ago. “[The rivalry] has maintained its excitement for all of the years that I have been here,” said Mamary.
This year, the hype for SPF games started over social media, mainly on Facebook and Twitter. Senior Kelly Dorry noticed the rivalry taking off on Twitter three years ago. “It was exciting to look at because it felt like we were involved in the rivalry,” said Dorry. “I think that over social media, the rivalry doesn’t involve just the players but it involves the fans, too.”
But before the games were built up through technology, the rivalry between the two teams was much more personal. Mamary recalled one soccer game in the 1990s when the teams took the rivalry beyond the field. “SPF came to our practice field at Tamaques School one night and put all of the soccer goals on the roof of the Tamaques Elementary building,” Mamary said. “It was insane.”
History has proven that tension has always existed between the neighboring town teams; however, there is no significant explanation for the rivalry. “Being right next to each other increases the rivalry so we always want to beat each other so we have cross town bragging rights,” said senior varsity soccer player Santiago Correa.
Mamary said that she is really enthused about the way WHS students handled the first Rivalry Day and how excited they are about the rivalry itself. “I am really proud of our student body for the support of all of the teams, not just one,” Mamary said. “It’s not just about going crazy for one; they supported everybody that day and that’s the whole point.”