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Reid All About It: Respect defines in-town sports rivalry

From one academic year to the next, the cross-town athletic rivalry between Fairfield Ludlowe and Fairfield Warde can be like the pendulum on a clock. It swings both ways.

For games between the rivals in all sports in 2012-13, Ludlowe had the upper hand. In 2013-14, it's been Warde's turn to have earned the edge.

In some years, it's pretty even.

Seniors graduate, and the balance of power can shift. It's the cyclical nature of high school sports here and elsewhere.

But the records often can obscure far more important factors.

This year's cross-town games were played at a high level of competition, and sportmanship dominated every minute of play. Seven of the 26 contests had a final margin of one point -- whether that was goals (soccer, lacrosse), games (volleyball), points (basketball) or runs (softball).

Warde brought out the best in Ludlowe; Ludlowe brought out the best in Warde. That's how it should be.

The games were well attended, despite some nasty weather. The fans were positive and supportive. The coaches were cooperative and open in commenting afterward as to why they won, lost or tied, always appreciative of the efforts from the other side.

The players got excited for the rivalry games but kept in focus that Warde-Ludlowe Day is just one line on the schedule, as teams aimed for FCIAC or state tournament berths or to wrap-up seasons of improvement from the year before. They seemed genuinely happy for the victors, many of whom they count as friends, even though they live across town. Many high school rivals were teammates and pals on youth teams.

Some of the games were memorable.

Warde nearly scored first in a scoreless boys soccer match but did not and Ludlowe pulled out a 1-0 victory. Ludlowe had never lost to Warde in boys lacrosse and earned that elusive first-ever win when Jason Nerreau made his 14th and final save for the Mustangs in the final few seconds.

The girls basketball games between two strong teams? How about the cliche of neither deserved to lose, though each did once. The girls lacrosse contest was decided in the final 19 seconds, one of the two ties between the schools in 2013-14.

Ludlowe-Warde differs from other cross-town rivalries in the state -- namely Norwalk-McMahon in Norwalk, Platt-Maloney in Meriden, Enfield-Fermi in Enfield, Bristol Central-Bristol Eastern and Hall-Conard in West Hartford.

Those rivalries aren't necessarily nasty, but they are less friendly. Read Full Article 

At the CIAC Class L wrestling tournament in Bristol in February, Warde wrestlers in the bleachers were actively rooting for their Ludlowe counterparts on the mats. They could be heard. Others noticed. That doesn't happen too often with cross-town rivals from Norwalk, Meriden, Enfield or Bristol; it's there to a degree in West Hartford, however, to be honest.

Wednesday, walking off the H. Smith Richardson Golf Course, a Mustangs golfer stopped to take a photo of her two Falcons competitors in their foursome.

That gesture reveals the tone of this rivalry.

This writer's lasting impressions of his first year of covering the Warde-Ludlowe rivalry: good teams, for the most part, bringing their levels of play up for their rivals and competing hard and fair.

Sportsmanship ruled, and no matter what the scoreboard read when it was over, the post-game handshake lines were cordial and respectful, the congratulations genuine.

That makes everyone a winner, whether they wear Mustangs' red and black or Falcons' blue.

Reid Walmark is the sports editor of the Fairfield Citizen.

Reid Walmark

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