Garrettsville –  Two backyard rivals take their competition to a new level. Windham and Garfield schools last year decided to make change in the rivalry rather than contend against one another, they  decided come together for a joint cause. A year ago last fall, when Mike Chaffee took over as the principal of Windham Schools, he wanted to revive the rivalry  wiht Garrettsville that had somewhat died down over the years.  Chaffee wanted to turn what usually becomes a week of pranks and sometimes vandalism into a week of positive, healthy competition for a good cause. So “rivals for a cause” was born. Last year the schools held a food drive and sold T-shirts to raise monies for St. Jude’s Hospital. This year they are raising money by selling T-Shirts and the proceeds are being donated to Porter Lyons, a Garfield senior who underwent a heart transplant on New Years Eve. Between the two schools over 400 shirts were sold.
Rivalries are as old as dirt and many of them fade out. Although it appears that the rivalry between these two schools is still strong, it has become less intense and less vicious than in years past.  They still have pep rallies and  spirit week; the victories are sweet, but what once was is no longer the norm.
The more mature sector of the population from both districts tell of stories where each school had fears going to the  others territory. It was not uncommon in the early 70’s for the bus to travel through rocks, bottles etc. being tossed at them by kids who would lie in the ditches waiting for the visiting school to approach the town. Other pranks were common-place as well.
Residents tell of how Garfield’s victory bell that is now anchored on the football field was a target and stolen quite often during spirit week. Could that be why it is cemented down now?  Some said they will never forget the large W burned on Garfield football field a few years back, while Windham talks about the time Garfield kids marked their field with a big G. The pranks seemed to have gone by the wayside — as they should — and the rivalry has dwindled some but one thing remains the same,  a victory is sooo sweet and bragging rights reign for a long time. However, losing is still very bitter.
I asked many older residents that are still involved with school sports why they thought a rivalry which was strong, had lost some of its intensity. Some said laws have changed and schools now have zero tolerance policies which cause some to reconsider their actions. Many schools  now have cameras and more lighting outside which also plays a role in the reduction of the misdeeds. Some even said the two towns have intermarried which has changed the dynamics of the rivalry; social media have played a role in the change as well.
One thing that can be said is, although it may not be as vicious, the rivalry is still there and going strong and last Friday’s game at Garfield is proof of that. Long before the J.V. game reached the half-way mark, seating became difficult to find and by the time the varsity game started, the house was at capacity.
Everyone was ready for a good game; both sides were clad in the “Rivals for a Cause” black and teal T-shirts that both districts had sold as a fundraising project for the Lyons family. The student body from each school  cheered on their team and occasionally taunted each other by  “We can’t hear you” or “You can’t do that” followed by cheers of “Go Bombers” and “Go G-Men”. The game remained close for the most part, with  teams exchanging the lead several times.
Half-time brought out the best in both team’s fans as the entire gym gave a standing ovation as the Garfield’s Student Council and Windham Senior Jacob Vaughan presented a  $10,000 check to Porter Lyons. The monies presented were from various fundraising efforts and donations from the community. The funds from the T-shirt sale and spaghetti dinner that took place Friday night were not included in the total.  Porter addressed the fans and thanked them for their support. After the presentation and Porter’s address, the fans swarmed Porter chanting “Porter Porter” and “We love you Porter.”
The game resumed and remained tight.  About a third of the way through the third quarter the gym once again gave a standing ovation as Garfield Senior Cody Berg hit a milestone of his career by scoring his 1,000th point. After a brief recognition, the game resumed with a back and forth exchange of leads. It the end, the G-Men came up short (64-61) giving the Bombers a victory and the bragging rights for another year.