The spark of a rivalry isn’t always clear. Berkeley High School holds varied team rivalries specific to different BHS sports, and umbrella rivalries agreed upon by the wider school community. BHS senior Lydia Schrag spoke on a historical rivalry for the girls tennis team.
“I joined the Berkeley High womens tennis team as a freshman and have been a part of varsity for all four years,” Schrag said. “Our team’s biggest rival has always been Piedmont. I’m not sure where this started, but it has been present since before I joined the team.” One of my greatest memories from being on the team freshman year was the day our team beat Piedmont for the first time in years. That year we were league champions.”
She explained the rivalry’s effect on the energy of the team, that part of the reason everyone gets so pumped to play such stiff competition is because the victory feels so much sweeter.
“[It] makes the win feel like a great accomplishment,” Schrag said.
Some rivalries come from personal discontent different from the competitive energy on the field. `
BHS senior Yasmeen Bawany is co-captain of the BHS field hockey team. Her 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 made (them) run four and a half miles the next day,” Bawany said.
On a broader scale, Bishop O’Dowd is widely known to be a core rival of BHS, and the feeling is mutual. Flynn Balog is a senior at Bishop O’Dowd High School. He’s on the soccer team and has been since freshman year. When asked about rivalries, he quickly responded with, “Berkeley, for sure.”
“Berkeley and O’Dowd are the only two really competitive teams in our league, and so I think it’s probably just stemmed from an ‘O’Dowd wins one year, Berkeley wins the next,’ type of thing,” Balog said. “We look forward to playing Berkeley every year. The games are always especially rough.”
When thinking about the upcoming season, Balog added, “I feel like the future for O’Dowd and Berkeley High soccer is pretty promising, so I can only imagine that the rivalry continues.”
While some rivalries continue, others may be born. Football coach David Perry explained that the BHS football team is in a new league this year.
This means there are many new teams playing BHS this season, including Hayward, Mt. Eden, and Irvington. As the first season in the league, there are no established rivalries. However, expectations must be managed.
“My standard is the nameless faceless opponent,” Perry said, when asked if the athletic expectations of the BHS team varies depending on the opponent. “The standard and expectations for how we approach the game and play the game never change.”
While athletes may anticipate these games differently depending on past emotions, and the win may feel more gratifying, their mentality going into every game must be the same.
“Every team must be respected,” Perry said. “It can be dangerous to approach games differently depending on the opponent.”