Culture and spirit around athletics changes over time


Contributed by Malcolm Cawthorne

Malcolm Cawthorne '88 awaits the pitch as he bats in the spring baseball season of 1988. Cawthorne was a tri-season athlete, playing year-round for baseball, basketball and football.

Sandeep Gingipali, Sports Editor

Championships, crushing defeats and miracle seasons are just a few of the words that can be used to describe the storied history of athletics at the high school. Throughout the school’s rich history, there have been tremendous highs and lows that have characterized the athletics program.

Although aspects of athletics such as student interest in various sports have fluctuated, other aspects of athletics at the high school have been fundamentally transformed.

Social studies teacher Malcolm Cawthorne ‘88 played football, basketball and baseball at the high school. He believes that student interest surrounding the football and basketball teams peaked in the early 2000s.

In the 2003-04 year, football team went 7-4 and the boys basketball team got to the state finals; there was a buzz around the school and a more positive outlook toward sports,” Cawthorne said. “It also was the last year the bar was very high for both programs and had coaches in the building that every student could potentially identify with as a part of BHS.”

According to equipment manager of the athletics department Marc Lofchie ‘77, student interest in hockey and wrestling was highest in the late 1990s.

“When I first started, were focused on wrestling and hockey and there was a wrestling team for girls and the boys since so many girls were playing,” Lofchie said. “Now I think there’s one girl from last year who . And back then when I started, the Winter Olympics had just finished, so the boys and the girls ice hockey teams were enormous and there was a separate girls team and a separate boys team. Now there aren’t enough so the girls hockey team has to mix in with Newton South.”

According to Cawthorne, athletes are now more focused on specializing in one sport as opposed to playing multiple sports. Very few athletes play sports beyond Division III competition after high school, despite research that shows playing multiple sports helps to prevent injuries.

“The quarterback in 1988 was a scholarship player and went to BU,” Cawthorne said. “He also played varsity basketball and was captain and MVP of the conference. He never thought to not play basketball to focus on his college sport.”

According to Dean Lisa Redding ‘89, who was a member of the girls swimming team, students have placed a larger emphasis on using sports as a means to get into college.

“The athletes and college piece has changed dramatically over the last couple decades,” Redding said. “There are students that are more invested in their sport, doing that sport year-round, really focusing on one sport earlier and many actually using their sport to get into certain colleges, which is definitely a change from decades ago.”

Not only have athletes’ attitudes towards sports changed, but students attitudes have changed as well. Whereas school spirit was previously largely contingent on a team’s success, the Superfans club, led by seniors Eric Chabon and Yuli Burstein, has been working to change that reality so that there is always enthusiasm and support surrounding the athletics program.

Burstein is the coordinator for the Superfans and notifies people about sporting events coming up through social media to try and encourage people to go to the games. At the games, he leads chants and tries to rally the school together.

Before the Superfans, there was no organization to unify the school around sporting events, but the Superfans aim to keep school spirit alive regardless of the records of teams at the high school.

Burstein wants the Superfans to get bigger and for the school to continue supporting the different teams at the high school.

“We want to get more kids to games, we want to keep the Superfan spirit alive and respectful,” Burstein said. “We want to support our classmates in the competitions they play because we want them to know that we have their back, and they want to feel supported by us.”