And the rival is…

By Mary Rose Fissinger

Inherent in all Harvard-Westlake students are a few things: a curiosity for learning, a desire for challenge and a hatred towards Loyola High School. Even the girls, who could not possibly have any personal vendetta against these Jesuit Catholic educated boys for athletic reasons, have ingrained in them a disgust for the institution.

I cannot claim to be entirely above this; any victory over the Loyola cubs seems to me to carry with it an extra level of joy and accomplishment, one that I am not loathe to revel in. 

But my brother went to Loyola, class of 2007. And while you may think this would temper my view of the rivalry, I’ve found that rather, I’m most likely more familiar with it than anyone.

I get it from both sides. The snide comments and obnoxious teasing I got from my brother and all his friends when I announced my decision to attend Harvard-Westlake for high school has not stopped to this day. Though they do it out of love and affection for me (they say), I can declare with near certainty that not one of them has an ounce of affection in their bodies for my beloved high school.

However, Harvard-Westlake takes it a step further. At almost every school gathering I’ve been to, be it commencement a cross country team party or ring ceremony, a joke about Loyola’s usual athletic dominance or double loss to us in basketball last year is made. And while I appreciate that these remarks are made to draw laughs or conjure up fond memories by referring to something we all can relate to, are they necessary? Because I’ve got to tell you, from someone who’s attended a great deal of Loyola High events herself, Loyola is not talking about us.

Not once have I heard a Harvard-Westlake joke come from the mouth of a Loyolan, unless it was a friend of my brother doing it simply to elicit a comeback from me. 

After every Harvard-Westlake event, my mother comes home and calls my brother to tell him the most recent Loyola reference, and then the two of them laugh and laugh.

They do it because, to them, it’s amusing how fully Harvard-Westlake is invested in this rivalry. Sure, Loyola likes to colloquially and informally poke fun at us, and things get particularly heated when they play us in basketball or water polo, but these are isolated incidents brought on by the emotion of that singular moment, not by deep-seeded, permanent loathing embedded in their souls.

That mom didn’t set out to find the coach of the Harvard-Westlake team and shove him into the pool simply because he was the coach of Harvard-Westlake.

But we do make snide comments about Loyola simply because they are Loyola.

The Loyola athletic culture is simply accented by the occasional fierce battle with Harvard-Westlake, not defined by it. Because we ARE good. Yes, Loyola as a whole is better, but come on, they have 1,200 boys to pick from.

They can’t be our yardstick. And, off the sports field, we reign supreme. Did Loyola make the Forbes Top 20 Prep Schools in America?

Does Loyola consistently have over 10 percent of the class become National Merit Semifinalists? No. So let’s give it a rest. Cubs who?

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