By MARINA WATERS
Red and white and brown and gold don’t really go together. But in Washington County, they’re starting to.
Representatives from both Daniel Boone and David Crockett High School — coaches, graduates and athletes — came together in the name of unity for Washington County’s second-annual “We Are Washington County” photo-op and event.
“When we’re not competing on the field, we’re about the entire county. That’s part of what the Washington Way is all about,” Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton said to the group of students. “We have kids from Boone here. We have kids from Crockett. You’re the leaders in your school, each and every one of you. The students in your school, they look up to you. Your peers do. What you do and your choices matter.”
With football season right around the corner and memories of the fight that broke out at the 2014 Musket Bowl rivalry matchup still in the backs of minds, each of the representatives from both schools came together with a goal to unite as one, after decades of a strong across-town rivalry.
“I was that guy that sat over here,” Boone’s Athletic Director Danny Good recalled, motioning to those wearing red. “I grew up in a house where Boone andCrockett didn’t like each other.
“I think the problem back then is there wasn’t a lot of respect. I think that’s what we’re trying to overcome now. You guys work hard and our kids work hard too. I think that’s something that we need to overcome, a respect factor.”
Though the Musket Bowl is the schools’ night to face the rivalry on the field, behavior between the rivals on another battleground was also addressed. To support the idea of remaining civil through social media platforms like twitter and Facebook, 2017 Crockett graduate Rebekah Saylor spoke to the group about the lasting effect harsh words can leave on a person, even if it’s in the name of an age-old rivalry.
“I don’t want to say your high school years don’t matter. They do. They’re very important. But as far as social media and targeting other people, don’t make it personal,” Saylor said. “It’s not worth the hurt feelings because, win or lose, they’re going to remember that you hurt them. So take the opportunity to do good.”
Social media can be more than just a breeding ground for harsh words before a Crockett verses Boone matchup; the director of schools also mentioned the lingering pain that social media can also cause in a high school social sphere.
“I think high school is harder than ever before, even for the so-called popular group,” Halliburton said. “I think a lot of kids struggle today in high school with more than I ever experienced. When I was excluded from a party, I didn’t find out about it until that Monday when kids were part of it. And that party kind of died down. Today if you’re excluded from something like that, it’s an imprint that’s forever there. The pictures are always there.”
Instead, Crockett’s head football coach Gerald Sensabaugh, whose twitter account has more than 69,000 followers, told the group of s
tudents that social media should be used as a platform. He also suggested the students think of the Musket Bowl as a platform as well.
“It’s a platform to promote yourself,” Sensabaugh said. “Use it to promote your school. Promote you as a player. Promote your classroom. Promote your teachers.”
“There are 5,000 people that come to the Musket Bowl. How many things in the Tri-Cities do you think bring 5,000 people together? That platform stage is huge. You can use that platform in front of 5,000 people to show great sportsmanship, great respect for the game. ‘Hey we’re civilized people.’ ‘We’re educated.’ ‘We know what we’re doing.’ You will forget (the game), but being in the moment, you have the chance to impact 5,000 people’s perception of you, who you are, Daniel Boone, David Crockett, the school system — the county as a whole.”
All in all, Crockett’s athletic director, Josh Kite, wanted to express to the group of Boone and Crockett students how much what they do, in and out of any sports arena, can impact the community, both schools and each wide-eyed child watching in admiration.
“I’ve got two kids back here who are three and six,” Kite said. “They look up to you. When I go to the school, they’re looking at you guys. They’re not looking at the teachers. They’re not looking at the coaches—they’re looking at you. They were watching the cheerleaders yesterday. My daughters are over there doing flips. You guys are our future. You guys are our leaders. Right now we are one. When we play each other of course we want to win, but we’re still one. And that’s what it’s all about.”
Boone’s head football coach, Jeremy Jenkins, offered one last reminder to these students who are about to embark on another year of competition, learning and memories that go further than an antique musket one team will get to keep for a year.
“Let this be meaningful to you. If you think you’re just going to go to work and do a job — you’re going out there to have fun. This is going to be the most memorable times of your career and especially this being one of the biggest rivalries that there is,” Jenkins said. “It’s a rivalry on the field, but then we’re all behind one boss here — and in one heartbeat.”