The best time to beat the Episcopal Academy is in November. When you run up the scoreboard in, say, September, efforts are invalidated and results overlooked. “Churchmice” scurry up their trees in an attempt to see eye to eye with the Fords who just trampled their fellow horde. Excuses are often made. “We aren’t in midseason form! We aren’t used to the weather!” they’ll say. But what you have to do is walk right on past them, into your busses, and back to our holy grounds, because EA Day or not, November is here.
Over a century of competition, Episcopal has simply had no answer. As sports were added on to an acclaimed Philadelphia rivalry—football in 1889, soccer in 1910, cross-country in 1965, water polo in 2002, and golf in 2011—Episcopal felt more and more overwhelmed. Attempts to eliminate ties by hosting an odd number of events only made the habitual broom sweeping ceremony even more embarrassing.
A few years back, the student body and faculty wrestled with fan behavior, and matters escalated to the point where Dr. Nagl threatened to cancel this eminent celebration of athletic superiority. Records show that EA Day has never been cancelled and the incident with student misbehavior marks its only close call.
Haverford sage Mr. Fox shined light onto these close calls: “For a little while, an old car was brought to campus and painted with EA colors and students smashed it up with bats and sledgehammers during the pep rally.”
We did not show our team spirit in Haverford fashion. “A dummy dressed in an EA uniform was dropped from the catwalk onto the stage, and lower schoolers wound up screaming and crying.”
In the 1970s and 80s, Episcopal rocked and rolled their way to a few insignificant victories, but today the Fords no longer use unwarranted build-up tactics; these athletes let their performances silence the squeaking.
“There will not be an EA Day this year in the traditional sense. It will have a different feel. It is a shame that the community loses such a great tradition and rallying point, but the focus is on the athletes this year.”Atlhletic Director Mr. Michael Murphy
But with the possibility of the first ever cancelled Haverford-EA duel, how will the class of 2021 unleash years of pent-up dominance? Athletic Director Coach Murphy set the record straight.
“There will not be an EA Day this year in the traditional sense. It will have a different feel,” he said. “It is a shame that the community loses such a great tradition and rallying point, but the focus is on the athletes this year.”
Golf coach Mr. Franz added, “I am hopeful that we can, in some way, come up with a format that would allow this great tradition to continue.”
The tone of EA Day has shifted. Rather than the community building up the athletes, it is the athletes’ turn to build up the community, and the class of 2021 could not be more suited to do so. The twelve varsity captions across five sports exhibit their leadership through the Honor Council, student-led unions and clubs, and the Signet Society. These multidimensional athletes will unite the community in times of uncertainty.
One shared certainty is utter domination, because the Fords are used to putting in hours when nobody is watching. While the student fan section may encourage mental toughness, these captains will have no problem generating it on their own.
Sixth Form soccer captain Kieran Bradley said, “I have been working on my ball skills on my own at a field near my house. I’ve also been going to the gym to get some extra workouts in.”
Sixth Form cross-country captain A.J. Sanford has done the same: “I have essentially been on a regimen since last season. I have put more mileage in over this summer than I have in every other summer combined.”
Fans or no fans, these athletes are ready to unite in Wilson Hall but lead as individuals on the field, course, or pool.
“The golf team is blessed with great leadership,” Coach Franz said. “They approach every practice with the intent to improve. They are great leaders, and it helps that they are also really good golfers.”
Soccer coach Mr. Dan Keefe added to the new, uplifting culture that restrictions have ensued: “We have an under-the-lights game on the schedule.”
Those students who are fortunate enough to attend the limited spectacle will bring an unforeseen intensity.
“Everything is subject to change, just as it always has been,” Sixth Form soccer captain Reed Halpert said.
To compensate, Sixth Form football captain Chris Sims said, “I’ve been preparing myself mentally, keeping my competitive mindset, and am hungry to hit the field.”
In a perfect world, the student body would find themselves supporting their brothers with raspy, lost voices, but this is not the case. Coaches and captains have adapted, working independently towards their common goal of defeating the nemesis at Newtown Square.
“The game shouldn’t be close,” Sixth Form water polo captain Grayson Walker said. And as Sixth Form cross country runner Nolan Cooleen puts it, “It’s a bad day to be a hill.”
It’s a bad day to be a hill, and it’s a terrible month to be the Episcopal Academy. Will there be a formal EA Day? Unlikely. But when the Fords graze away at Episcopal’s perfectly manicured fields, plucking their horde away lineup after lineup, the mice will remember what month it is, and who that month belongs to. 2020 may have an asterisk or a void on the holy sweater, but when each sport takes care of their inferior counterpart, there will be no debate where the stitching should reside.