The spark of a rivalry is not always clear. Berkeley High School holds varied team rivalries specific to different BHS sports and general rivalries agreed upon by the wider school community. BHS senior Lydia Schrag spoke about a historic rivalry for the women’s tennis team.
“I joined the Berkeley High women’s tennis team as a freshman and was part of the university for all four years,” Schrag said. “Our team’s biggest rival has always been Piedmont. I don’t know where it started, but he had been around since before I joined the team. One of my fondest memories of being in the team’s first year was the day our team beat Piedmont for the first time in years. That year we were league champions.
She explained the effect of rivalry on team energy, that part of the reason everyone is so motivated to play such tough competition is that winning is so much sweeter.
“[It] makes winning feel like a big accomplishment,” Schrag said.
Some rivalries come from personal discontent different from the competitive energy on the pitch. `
BHS senior Yasmeen Bawany is the co-captain of the BHS field hockey team. His take on their rivalry against Lick-Wilmerding High School was that it was not historical, or even very two-sided, but rather due to frustrating circumstances of losing to them, as “(their) coach (them) ran four and a half miles the next day,” Bawany said.
On a larger scale, Bishop O’Dowd is widely known to be a grassroots BHS rival, and the feeling is mutual. Flynn Balog is a senior at Bishop O’Dowd High School. He has been on the soccer team since freshman year. Asked about the rivalries, he quickly replied: “Berkeley, of course.”
“Berkeley and O’Dowd are the only two really competitive teams in our league, so I think it probably comes down to a ‘O’Dowd wins one year, Berkeley wins the next one,'” Balog said. to play at Berkeley every year. The matches are always particularly difficult.
Looking ahead to the season ahead, Balog added: “I feel like the future of football for O’Dowd and Berkeley High is pretty bright, so I can only imagine the rivalry continuing. “
While some rivalries endure, others may arise. Football manager David Perry explained that the BHS football team is in a new league this year.
This means there are plenty of new teams playing at BHS this season, including Hayward, Mt. Eden and Irvington. Like the league’s first season, there are no established rivalries. However, expectations need to be managed.
“My standard is the nameless, faceless opponent,” Perry said, when asked if the BHS team’s athletic expectations vary depending on the opponent. “The norm and expectations for how we approach the game and play the game never change.”
While athletes may anticipate these games differently based on past emotions, and winning may feel more rewarding, their mindset in every game should be the same.
“Every team should be respected,” Perry said. “It can be dangerous to approach matches differently depending on the opponent.”