Tiger Pride– or lack there of?

Tiger Town is beginning to take on a whole new meaning for BHS, but for better or for worse?

Abbie Paquette, Sports Editor

For every action, there is an equal or opposite reaction. With each new upcoming business and conversion of the town and the mills, it seemed to bring the community closer. But as of late, the Tiger Pride schema around Biddeford High School has seemingly started to deteriorate. The old saying plastered on banners, “A Proud City Rising where the Water Falls,” has been exhibited otherwise throughout the walls of BHS, and many are wondering what happened to the true meaning of ‘Tiger Town.’

The comradery between sports, clubs, and other activities has turned into a competition of wins and style, and it’s not only the students who are noticing.

Tiger Pride was a huge hit after the 50s, when Biddeford football was controlling a football field like no other had prior. Winning eleven championships since the 50s, Biddeford’s rivalry with neighboring high school Thornton Academy was still in full swing from its start in 1893, giving the students of BHS more than enough to cheer their heart out for.

Living through the age of what could have been called a football dynasty, current football head coach and Social Science teacher Brian Curit is a firm believer in Tiger Pride.

“People always want to compare like we say ‘Well when I was your age’ or whatever it is and I don’t think that’s always accurate,” said Curit. “One of the things I will say was when I was in school we won a lot. We won 27 out of 29 football games in my three years and that’s probably the best record in the history of Biddeford High School. The fact is, we have tons of kids still here that still display that [the same Tiger Pride], and winning does take care of everything, believe me.”

Although teachers have passed their glory days of high school, the relation of school spirit is still the same.

“I’ll be the first guy to say that I’m a very corny guy, I’ve always believed in that [Tiger Pride],” said Curit. “I believe it’s the type of resolve you get when the chips are laid down.”

Junior Carson Neumann, a member of the track team, gets glimpses of the true meaning of Tiger Pride through some forced but much-needed efforts.

“During this outdoor track season, we had a meet at Windham,” said Neumann. “It was about 7:30pm, everyone was tired and cold, and the lights on the field turned on. There were still quite a bit of events left, so I helped encourage people to get on the bottom of the bleachers, and cheer on the runners yet to compete. The whole team seemed to be down there cheering their hearts out…it was Tiger Pride showing up in a sport that rarely feels it.”

While on vacation, athletes and students utilize social media to keep in touch. What social medias such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram can also be used for is a way for people to create drama and to bash other teams based on their records. It was through social media where a nerve was struck, and where Roy as well as others saw the crumbling Tiger Pride in an early form.

“Instead of cheering on other teams, people want other teams to lose so they look better,” said Roy. “There’s a little bit of rivalry between softball, baseball, and [boys and girls] lacrosse. Recently, it’s been baseball and softball.”

The lack of Tiger Pride has not been isolated from one sport either. Neumann feels that there are both good and bad sides to the changing of school spirit and camaraderie.

“Tiger Pride has changed a lot over the years, some for the better and some for the worse,” said Neumann. “Over the past few months, I feel like the teams at our school don’t support one another. They bash other teams because they might not be good, or simply just because they play a certain sport.”

Although there may be some blame put more so on one group than another, Curit believes that this is just another cycle.

“I’ve been here a long time, and keep in mind that I have been coaching here for three years and I’ve been teaching for twenty-eight, twenty-nine,” said Curit. “I believe things are cyclical meaning that there are times when it [Tiger Pride] shows up and there’s other times when it wanes.”

The fault is not all on sports teams, or a certain age group. As Biddeford has aged, so have the traditions, and some have also fallen out of style. Neumann thinks it may be due to the certain seasons and hype around each sport that the students show.

“It is more so students during some seasons such as the fall and possibly even winter, because the Beak Squad supports the main events,” said Neumann. “But adults have had to encourage the Tiger Pride at other times when it should’ve been a natural instinct.”

Curit on the other hand, thinks that having the drive and competitiveness to win is integral to Tiger Pride and success.

“I think it [Tiger Pride] wanes when we’re not competitive, and we’ve had sort of a bad bout,” said Curit. “But now think about this: hockey we’re getting better, softball we’re getting better, football I expect to be one of the best teams this fall, and I think that stuff [the bad bout] happens when we’re not competitive.”

Roy also believes that the shift in Tiger Pride is present for certain teams.

“It’s not a community Tiger Pride [anymore],” said Roy. “There’s Tiger Pride within certain teams, but it’s not together.”

Even so, these main events create a bias for support of teams. For athletes like Neumann, it can create mixed emotions about how supporting your high school teams and friends can turn into social hour.

“Tiger Pride is biased towards sports such as hockey and football,” said Neumann. “This is because the Beak Squad attends these games only [as a full squad]. I feel like people go to games as social periods, and not time to actually embrace Tiger Pride and support your team.”

Since the deterioration of school spirit, Neumann ever so slightly sees the community starting to deteriorate as well compared to previous years.

“A long time ago, students and the community in general attended almost all sporting events,” said Neumann. “But the loss of Tiger Pride has made these events almost [seem] worthless.”

To Neumann, the whole concept of togetherness has taken on a new role, and not for the better.

“We [BHS Athletics] used to win as a school, lose as a school,” said Neumann. “But now I feel like the attitude towards games are you either win or you lose, and you get ridiculed by other students regardless.”

Being ridiculed is not the only downside of the lessened support within our school. Roy believes that there are other aspects that tone down the Tiger Pride within BHS.

“I feel like sports don’t do as well as they do when the whole school isn’t there cheering you on,” said Roy. “It’s a lot easier to do well than if you have your own school cheering against you. So I think it’s hurt our athletics and made it [BHS] not such a fun place to go.”

However, regaining Tiger Pride and whole-heartedness as a school could be an easy fix if people took it one step at a time. Neumann believes student involvement could play a key factor in school spirit rebirth.

“We [BHS] should have more events to get our school to bond, like Mr. BHS or even a karaoke night, where it’s just us Biddeford kids having fun with one another bonding like we once did,” said Neumann. “Supporting sports that don’t get much attention could also aid in the revival of Tiger Pride.”

Roy also has her own ideas for spicing up the quiet expression of school spirit.

“Just cheer each other on; don’t worry about just your own sport,” said Roy. “You should hope that all sports do well.”

If there is anything key to getting Tiger Pride back pumping through our school’s system, it’s support. Neumann thinks equal support is an ingredient for our sports’ future success.

“Everybody deserves the opportunity to have a crowd cheering for them,” said Neumann. “I wish everyone could experience this at least once, so it could happen more often than not.”
While Tiger Pride may be stuck deep in our hearts, it is time for BHS to shed its layers and reveal a better Biddeford. Community members and students at BHS can give ‘Tiger Town’ a whole new meaning, as long as “we” start to roar again.