They’re calling it a Cinderella story: for the first time in school history, Sharon High School won a Super Bowl thanks to a 12-3 win over Wayland High. For me, this is no Cinderella story; this is a miracle.
I was born and raised in Sharon. As far as I can remember, Sharon never won a single football game during my four years at the high school. They didn’t win many games any other year for that matter. I don’t remember ever seeing Sharon football enjoy a winning season, but Google searches tell me it has happened. Still, a winning Sharon football team seems more to me like a Greek myth than a real thing.
I remember during my freshman year at Boston University, I excitedly boasted to my friends that my high school had finally won a football game – albeit by forfeit thanks to Mansfield’s use of an ineligible player. I thought that was the pinnacle for Sharon football. I was wrong.
This season, I’ve followed the team closely for the first time since I graduated five seasons ago. When I went home for the Jewish holidays in September, I learned that the football team was undefeated. The coach, Dave Morse, was awarded Patriots Coach of the Week honors by Sharon resident and former Patriot Andre Tippett. This honor alone was quite an achievement for the football team.
In Sharon, the head football coach position is typically a revolving door. The coach was not generally well-known around the school, and the only time I ever knew who the football coach was was when he was my math teacher and I was covering the team for the town paper. My biggest challenge that year was coming up with new and exciting ways to say that Sharon had lost yet again.
As I continued to follow the football team this season, I kept thinking about how exciting this must be for every student at the high school. Sharon High is a pressure-cooker. Academics are of utmost importance – we never had free periods or non-academic electives in high school.
Competition took place in the classroom, not on the athletic fields. Students would compete with others in terms of how many AP classes they took (if you didn’t get a 5 on an AP exam, you were a blemish on the Sharon High record), how many Ivy League schools they applied to and how many A’s they received on report cards.
Athletics were almost always just a peripheral part of high school. While many students played sports, an athletic culture never ruled Sharon High. We joked that Sharon was only good at “country club” sports: tennis, gymnastics, swimming and golf. The stereotypical “jocks and cheerleaders” clique was absent. We didn’t have homecoming. Students didn’t go to sporting events. We seldom had a chance to be normal teenagers under the crazy academic pressure we all faced.
I remember going to a football game as a fan just once (I was dating a player on the team and it was Thanksgiving – he begged me to go). I watched the game from the cozy interior of my car. It was a rainy November day, cold and wet, and there were no other students from Sharon there. Nobody cared. The team lost, and while I don’t remember the score, I’m pretty sure it was by a lot.
The only time I ever remember the school getting caught up in an athletic team’s success was in 2007 when our soccer team went to the Eastern Mass state final. A huge group of students went to the tournament games, and I remember cheering like crazy and rushing the field when the team topped Concord-Carlisle to win the state semifinal. They lost in the state final, but for Sharon, just making it there was a victory.
It was exhilarating to be at that game with my friends, to get away from the pressures of high school academics and college applications for just a few hours and cheer on my classmates. Since Sharon is a small town, I had known the players on the team since kindergarten. While I had always been a sports fan, I never knew the pleasure of coming together with your entire school to support people you have known since you were five years old. It’s a shame I only experienced that joy once.
One of the best photos I’ve seen from Sharon’s Super Bowl win was one of the sidelines. It appeared on the Hockomock sports Twitter account, and it showed an incredible crowd of Sharon residents clad in maroon and gold cheering on the football team. I’ve never seen anything like that in Sharon. Before the soccer game in 2007, I had to go out and buy a maroon shirt; I didn’t have any clothing in school colors.
I don’t know what the future has in store for Sharon football. I never could have imagined a Super Bowl championship in my town. I’m so excited for the team, their families, friends and the rest of the town. I hope this game serves as a reminder that there is more in life to be proud of than just academic success. I hope it reminds the town of the joy in coming together as a community to support each other. I hope it reminds Sharon that there’s more to high school than just academic success.
Congratulations one last time to Sharon football for making what once seemed impossible a reality. It was a great season, and I’m thrilled you all have been rewarded for the hard work and commitment it took to reach this point.
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