Close Combat Throughout History

Beth Gentsch , Sentry Staff Reporter

School rivalries almost always have one thing in common : a long, battered history full of blood, sweat, and tears. The exhilaratingly close games that often ensue between two rivals are enough to draw huge crowds, as well as give the winning team bragging rights for the next year to come. The rivalry between Yorktown and Washington-Lee began in 1960 when Yorktown first opened its school doors to relieve overcrowding at W-L. Students who had once gone to school together as teammates now found themselves forced to compete against each other.

Dave McBride, an alumn of Yorktown High School and a current administrator at Kenmore Middle School, believes that the rivalry can be compared to that of siblings, as it is spirited and intense, yet at the end of the day, players from the opposing teams can still be friends.

` “I also think the rivalry is intense because the schools are so close to one another and the students are basically similar.  While they like to define themselves by being different, they really are not all that different,” said McBride.

Over the years, the amount of wins and losses have fluctuated between both schools. During McBride’s senior year at Yorktown in 1985, the football team was not very good, but it was Coach Bruce Hanson’s first year of coaching for Yorktown and he would later lead the team to winning regional championships in 1988 and 1989. Yorktown managed to clinch a win against W-L in the last few seconds that year.

“As fate would have it, with the Patriots hanging on to a 2 point lead late in the game, instead of kicking a field goal and walking off with the win, W-L kept taking shots at the end zone.  YHS standout athlete Ricky Blaine picked off a W-L pass in the Patriot end zone to seal the win.  It was huge and made all the struggles and losses from the season fade away because at least we could say we beat W-L.”, said McBride.

Last year was the first time Yorktown had lost to W-L in football since 1984. It would seem that Ricky Blaine’s interception obviously started a magical legacy of some sort; although the winning streak was broken momentarily last year, Yorktown came out stronger than ever this football season to pull out a well-deserved “W” against their rivals.

Over the course of the past few years, Yorktown has dominated W-L in golf, basketball, lacrosse, and soccer. Other sports such as football, volleyball, and field hockey have given the Patriots a taste of both victory and defeat. Senior Shelby McDavid recalls a particularly intense field hockey game where Yorktown beat W-L in the fall of 2012 in double sudden death overtime.

“Finally in the second overtime, we somehow got a breakaway and scored…the fact that the game was so close made the win that much more satisfying,” said McDavid.

Great competition can only stem from a great rivalry. However, sometimes the proximity of the two schools can lead to a lot of so called “trash talking” on social media sites such as Twitter. Many students have probably heard of or witnessed the classic “#BeatWL” or “#BeatYorktown” hashtags, which usually consist of tweeting a slightly embarrassing picture of a friend with good intentions.

“I have seen some ‘#beatyorktown’ tweets that were really inappropriate. There is a pretty obvious line between harmless and harmful rivalry tweets, but some W-L kids don’t seem to understand that”, said McDavid.

As technology develops, it becomes more important to be respectful and careful with regards to the rivalry.

“Social media is tough, because what used to stay in the parking lot or on the field now can be broadcast or retweeted to everyone. Students have to be extremely careful to not get carried away and post messages that put others down.  It’s one thing to take pride in your team and talk about how great you are, it’s another thing altogether to call out other athletes and put them down,” said McBride.

The Generals and Patriots have kept a spirited rivalry throughout the past five decades and will no doubt continue the legacy for years to come. Although it may get a tad out of hand at times, the competitiveness would not exist today without the creation of Yorktown in 1960 and the movement of previous W-L students into the new school. Since then, Yorktown has grown to develop its own identity and built a successful reputation. The relationship between the two schools could be compared to that of playful siblings fighting; on the other hand, it could also be compared to that of two opposing tribes preparing to go to war.