Chizembi Sakulanda, South African Exchange Student
Before I arrived to Woodberry, I had already been informed about the hysteria that is The Game. And surely enough, as soon as I arrived at Woodberry Forest, I witnessed it. The Varsity football team, about to end their pre-season preparations, were already mentally getting ready for a match that was to be played a little more than two months in the future. I understand now, though, why only a football game is so important to students here. Woodberry was founded in 1889 and is 126 years old, giving it a deep rooted culture of it’s own. The Game between Woodberry Forest and Episcopal High School has been played for 114 years, and this year will be the game’s 115th. The Game is almost as long running as the school. This history adds on to the already high dose of boyish competitiveness and love to this game that is football. Neither of which is something I am new to.
Since I currently attend the all-boys boarding school Hilton College in South Africa, I am well aware of the significance that the role of tradition plays in sports. For us, it is our rugby match between a similar nearby all-boys boarding named Michaelhouse. The two games between our schools draw upwards of 12,000 people for each game, every season.
But it is not only the desire to watch high school boys trying to impress their school or families with their talent that draws these crowds. It is the tradition. And it is this same tradition that grabs the minds of the boys here at Woodberry. At Woodberry, just like the all-boys boarding schools I previously mentioned, tradition is one of the major foundation layers which these schools are built upon and help distinguish themselves by.
But it is not just the tradition that gets the school boy’s feverish, it is the competitiveness. The desire to win is something that has been imprinted in humans since our creation. And in high school the desire for glory is raised. In high school, it is even more important to feel the pride and glory within yourself than it is to receive external praise. This internal search for greatness is what drives the boys to be limitless on the field. But what is so special is that one does not need to be on the team to feel this. Being a part of the school as it yearns for a victory allows for boys to be a part of the history of this tradition.
So what does The Game mean? To an outsider it is yet another long running rivalry between two private schools, which is quite meaningless. Just something to entertain their lavish lives. But that is not the case. To understand what The Game represents, one has to be part of Woodberry and must feel the energy surrounding it. Only then can someone witness the ever changing production of brilliance. It is an electric current that runs through the school and awakens every boy, igniting the flames of passion in their hearts… including mine.