School Rivalry


Natalie Hinegardner, Writer

It’s the most important football game for eighth grade boys because they play their biggest rival. They have been preparing for this game the whole season, and now this is their time to show the other team what they can do. The stakes are high for both teams and neither of them want to lose. School rivalries are common, and the games that come from the rivalries are very exciting for coaches and players. They can bring out the competitiveness in athletes, challenging them to do their best.

Mr. Kevin Nieporte, seventh grade teacher, used to be a coach and an athletic director at the middle school. He said, “Rivalry games are the best because they are often well attended by fans as you battle for local bragging rights.  In addition, these games often have a significant impact on the rest of your season.” Coaches often get their players excited for the upcoming game and usually have some fun tricks up their sleeves. “I would likely have saved my best ‘fire ’em up’ speech for a rival game.  Plus add some flair to our game plan to surprise or distract the other team,” said Mr. Nieporte. Players need time to prepare for a rival game and coaches usually have a plan for their players to get ready for a rival game. Mr. Nieporte said, “I made sure my players knew a rivalry game was coming and expected a higher level of attention during the practices leading up to the game. Specifically, we tried to minimize our weaknesses, while trying to take advantage of the other team’s shortcomings.”

Sometimes school rivalry traditions can go too far with what fans do to one another, but teachers usually keep it under control. “I do not recall a time when a rivalry has gone ‘too far’ amongst the student-athletes participating, and that is all a coach can really control. Certainly, there have been times that fans, students, and/or parents get themselves in a bind, but those are outside distractions that rarely have an impact on the outcome,” said Mr. Nieporte. Coaches and even past coaches have different outlooks on school rivalries and how they feel about them.


Rivalries for athletes look different, but still just as exciting. Avery Barber, eighth grade volleyball and basketball player, said, “Our biggest rivalry for volleyball is Gray Middle School. Our biggest rivalry in basketball is Campbell County Middle School or Connor Middle School.” Athletes have different options with school rivalries and leading up to them. They are either excited or not ready to play. “I look forward to the game, but sometimes I get anxious leading up to the game,” said Barber. When it is almost time to play against a rival, the mood of an athlete can change, but they usually get mentally prepared to beat the rival. “I look forward to beating them,” said Barber. The volleyball players did beat Gray Middle School for the first time this season.

School rivalries are big in football.  For example, HHS football is always matched up against Covington Catholic.  It has been that way for decades.   Rivalries can happen in middle school, too. The eighth-grade football team is split into two different teams, the blue team, and the white team. Thomas Messmer, eighth grade football player, has experiences with in-school rivalries. “In my personal experiences, Highlands White vs. Highlands Blue is the biggest rivalry,” said Messmer. If a team loses against a rival, they often look forward to the next time they get to play them because they want another shot at beating the rival. Messmer said, “Yes, because we lost the last time, and I want to win this time because it is for the championship.”

Mr. Aaron Lense, Athletic Director, thinks that rivalries for athletes are good to raise the stakes in the games. “I think they make certain games more important than others, and they can bring more intensity to the season,” said Mr. Lense. Different coaches have different ways to get their students or athletes excited for the game. Mr. Lense said, “When we know we are playing somebody who we know is a rival, we promote it through the announcements, and we post it on Schoology. And the students do a great job of telling other students to go.” Rivals can change each season depending on what the divisions are, so coaches must watch pout on who they will be playing and who will be good the upcoming season. “Our biggest rivalry for volleyball is definitely Gray and our biggest rival for basketball is either Campbell County or Beechwood. Divisions have changed so now we have to play teams that are north, south, east, and west. It makes the stakes higher because there can only be one winner,” said Mr.Lense.

Rivalries can be exciting, not only for athletes and coaches, but for everyone.

School rivalries happen in every school, and it can look different depending on the school and which sport it is. Athletes prepare for so long for an upcoming rival game to show the other team what they can do.