Whether it be playing on the field or cheering in the stands, athletics are a key part of each student’s KO experience today. But have you ever wondered what sports were like at KO in past decades? I sat down with KO teachers who also attended KO in the 80s and 90s to hear their perspectives on how KO’s athletics and competition have changed over time.
English teacher David Hild ‘80 went to high school at KO when success in sports was more of a draw to students in the community and taken more seriously. “Back then, sports were a serious thing for a lot of people,” Mr. Hild said. “I think kids and the school as a whole cared about sports more.” Mr. Hild was a football and lacrosse player in his time at KO and sports games were always big events. Traditions like Hewett Day and the KITs are still here now, but back then they were on a whole different level. Mr. Hild explained that Hewett Day and the KITs were events that everybody in the entire school went to for the whole day. Everyone loved to show support for the competing teams, and they would walk back and forth from game to game to support all KO teams.
When I talked with creative arts teacher Greg Scranton ‘94, he shared a lot about his sports experience at KO in the 90s. Mr. Scranton made the hockey team as a freshman, and with that came many fun opportunities and traditions. “I was one of a few kids who made the hockey team as a freshman and hazing was still a thing,” Mr. Scranton explained. “I mean, it wasn’t bad, but they would shave your head. They were nice to me and gave me a mohawk, which wasn’t bad because some of the other kids got really bad haircuts.”
Mr. Scranton also played lacrosse at KO. Starting when he was a freshman, there were enough lacrosse players to make a full freshman team that went undefeated. Mr. Scranton reminisced about his sophomore year when he made the varsity lacrosse team and traveled to Australia. The team spent about two weeks traveling around Australia playing lacrosse games and sightseeing in all the different cities they visited
There were different sports that were offered to students that aren’t offered now like gymnastics, skiing, and wrestling.
The fun traditions around KO’s campus didn’t stop with just the sports teams: sometimes even the faculty would join in. Mr. Scranton remembers a co-ed faculty-student volleyball tournament that they played in. “We were the underdogs, there were some stacked teams and we just kept winning and winning and winning,” Mr. Scranton said. “We played the best team in the finals and we beat them and they were so mad. And it was my chemistry teacher. And he was like, ‘You guys are such poor sports, because you didn’t even shake our hands right after you won.’” As you can see, competition at KO extended beyond sports teams.
Another competition that the students enjoyed was running the Senior Green: seeing who could step foot on the green without getting caught. Mr. Scranton described that day vividly for me. “The first spring day when it was X period and sunny, all the freshman boys, including myself, would line up around the green in front of Roberts,” he said. “You’re kind of looking at each other, and then some brave soul just runs hopes to make it across. And if you don’t make it, you get pummeled or strung up on the flag pole by the seniors that are chasing after you. Some of those kids were fast so I had to keep running and you had to just keep running until they stop because they got tired.”
At KO, despite sports teams still maintaining success at the Founders League and New England levels, the competitive spirit and the will to win have lessened in previous years. Additionally, while many athletic traditions remain, they aren’t looked forward to by students as much as in the past.
I have been a part of the KO community since 2019 and the traditions that have been kept alive are Hewett Day and the KITs, but there is not nearly as much school spirit as Mr. Hild and Mr. Scranton described. It’s sad to see that the school has made the shift because sports used to be a big part of KO. “KO was more of a sports-oriented school,” he said. “Now the school is academically harder than it was then but overall I think KO now is probably nicer and less competitive than it was,” Mr. Hild said. Mr. Hild and Mr. Scranton were both student-athletes that valued their time at KO. Hearing about how KO was in two different decades helps to show what the experience was 30 to 40 years ago and how the athletics and competitiveness of KO’s history compare to today.