For the first time in school history, the boys’ hockey team is set to square off against St. Mark’s at Fenway Park. This game is definitely the most exciting sporting event in recent memory for the squad, and perhaps even in the history of Groton hockey. Much of the hype for the game comes from the historical significance of the matchup. The Groton-St. Mark’s rivalry is one of the oldest high school rivalries in the nation; fittingly, the latest installment of this old rivalry will be played at the oldest ballpark in America, Fenway Park, which was built in 1912. In addition, Groton’s ties with Fenway Park and baseball in general continue with alum Peter Gammons ’63. Mr. Gammons, a National Baseball and Groton Hall of Famer who is currently an analyst for the MLB Network, is widely considered to be one of the most respected and influential writers in baseball, and his iconic status resonates within the school and throughout baseball.
William Riley, the head coach of the boys’ hockey team, says there is much to look forward to in this unprecedented matchup. “Playing outdoors at Fenway will be memorable, especially because we are playing in the oldest ballpark in the U.S. With this being the first game against St. Marks of the year, our guys are excited for the matchup, and we certainly will field a competitive team.”
Groton was offered this remarkable opportunity for several reasons. According to Athletic Director Bob Low, “Fenway is reaching out to high school teams in an effort to give athletes a chance to play in one of the most hallowed venues in America. Since the ISL is known for its highly competitive hockey programs, Fenway was more inclined to reach out to ISL schools. The historic matchup with St. Mark’s garnered their interest.” Mr. Riley also acknowledged the contributions of St. Mark’s in making this game a reality. “This game was made possible largely in part due to the efforts of one of their alums,” he said.
The boys are just as excited for the game as Mr. Riley is, as the prospect of playing in Fenway Park would surely excite any high school boy. Andrew Popp ’14, one of the captains of the team, is eager to get on the ice. “With this being announced so early, we will have plenty of time to get pumped for the game. This is one of if not the most important game on our schedule this year, and we are all looking forward to it.” There definitely will not be any shortage of enthusiasm for this exciting matchup from the hockey team.
Playing at Fenway Park is also definitely a huge benefit for the hockey program as a whole. The fact that the team will compete at Fenway will certainly draw interest from prospective recruits looking to apply to Groton. Matt Winter ‘16 thinks this game will have a tremendous impact on the hockey program. “Playing at Fenway will definitely add exposure to our team, from attracting scouts to gaining interest from potential players for Groton in the future.” Fan favorite Rob Beshere ’14 declined to comment when asked how he thought this would impact the team, but he did say he would “play his heart out for the boys.”
The Groton community is thrilled with the prospect of going to Fenway Park to watch the hockey team play. Not only will eager fans get to visit one of the premier ballparks in the country, but they also get to watch the intense rivalry unfold between the two schools. Jared Belsky ’15 is very excited about going to Fenway to watch his friends compete, saying that he “cannot wait to go to Fenway to watch our team play. The fact that it’s against St. Mark’s makes it all the better.” Mr. Low was also very enthusiastic about going to Fenway. He thinks it gives the team and the people who will go a chance to appreciate this unprecedented event. “This is not only for boys’ hockey but an opportunity for the whole school to enjoy. It will promote school spirit…students are always talking about not being able to do more fun things together, especially in the dead of winter,” he said.
Clearly, choosing to participate in this event is beneficial to the school in many ways. Exposure, school pride, and a battle with an old rival are just some of the many impacts this game will have for Groton. The Groton community will have a tremendous opportunity to come together as one. Make no mistake: January 8 will definitely not be a night to miss.