The Deerfield-Choate rivalry is as old as time. The games, the spirit, and the cheers all tie together at the beginning of November to form the perfect head to head battle for which everyone’s been waiting. But what about all the other schools in our league? Deerfield has a proud history with Choate, but many schools have tried (and failed) to take its place.
Just fifteen miles north of us lies the campus of Northfield Mount Hermon; similar in size, location, and student body, NMH seems to be optimal for an all-school rivalry. The only problem is that we are their rivals, but they aren’t ours. In describing an old game, the NMH website boasts, “the Mount Hermon football team was hosting arch-rival Deerfield Academy.” Since then, NMH has stopped their football program, but Deerfield field hockey, soccer, and cross country teams continue to compete against NMH.
Typically, Deerfield teams have been successful in its rivalry with NMH. Boys varsity soccer is yet to play them this season, but girls varsity field hockey has already walked away with a 9-0 win. When describing her team’s history with NMH, girls cross country captain Grace Russell ‘21 said, “We beat them every time.”
Athletically, the Academy stands strong against NMH, but how do we stand culturally? Of forty students asked whether they considered NMH a rival, only two said yes. Lilly Berry ‘21, when asked about this rivalry, said, “It’s clearly a one-sided relationship.” Unfortunately for the Hoggers, it looks like they won’t make the cut.This fall, nine Deerfield teams traveled to NMH, and ultimately Deerfield conquered the day with five wins, three losses, and one tie.
Next up on the long, contested rivalry list are the mighty Pelicans. Our relationship with St. Paul’s started in the fall of 2017 with the birth of St. Paul’s Day. After the Pelicans left the Independent School League, St. Paul’s Athletic Director Richard Muther was on the hunt for a rival. Munther had a close relationship with Deerfield Athletic Director Mr. Robertson Howe, and thus St. Paul’s Day was born.
When asked about why St. Paul’s was chosen, Mr. Howe said, “We’re very like-minded schools, similar in size. They’re very similar to Deerfield.”
Many students view the Academy’s rivalry with St. Paul’s as one-sided, similar to that of NMH. Sam Bronckers ‘20 said, “We don’t really know about St. Paul’s. It’s not a thing for us.”
Though St. Paul’s is generally neglected by many students, the importance of St. Paul’s Day extends beyond the rivalry. “I don’t think it will ever be as hyped up as Choate, but I do think it’s the first weekend that kicks off our fall athletically: the first real school event. It gives our newer students a little taste of a rivalry weekend,” said Mr. Howe.
In addition to NMH and St. Paul’s, Deerfield holds rivalry days with a number of other schools, including Andover and Exeter, in the lead up to Choate Day.
On the last weekend of October, Deerfield hosted Andover Day, despite the less than optimal rainy weather. Commenting on the Andover rivalry, girls varsity field hockey player Talbot Von Stade ‘21 said, “The rain added another element of intensity to the game and made us want to win more.” Though the weather conditions led to the cancellation of several games, eight Deerfield teams faced up against Andover.
With big wins from volleyball, football, field hockey, and boys soccer, Deerfield proved that it was willing to fight for the win through any weather obstacles. A tallied six wins and two losses showed that Deerfield won the day.
Although Andover and Exeter have a fierce rivalry, much like the one between Deerfield and Choate, that doesn’t reduce the significance of Andover Day.
“I think our Andover rivalry will always be there,” said Mr. Howe. Yet, this year it appears the Gunga Gorillas just couldn’t fight back against the wave of green that came their way.
Rivalries are a long-standing tradition and a proud part of Deerfield’s history. While rivalry days in the lead-up to Choate Day are exciting school events for the athletic teams on campus, unfortunately for the Hoggers, Pelicans, and Gungas, it looks like Deerfield remains focused on beating the Boars this fall.