CHICOPIE, Massachusetts (WGGB/WSHM) – As with any regular Thanksgiving, there is a tradition of watching or playing football. On Thursday, the two Chicopee High Schools met as part of an annual holiday tradition.
Before the Thanksgiving NFL games at Chicopee Comp High School, business had to be taken care of.
Both the Chicopee High Pacers and the Chicopee Comp Colts were hyped this Thanksgiving as the annual rivalry known as the sword game was in full swing. Dozens of students and alumni gathered on Thursday morning to watch the game, which has been running since 1964.
“We used to play for the épée in the regular season. We’ve been playing Thanksgiving for the last five years, and I think the Thanksgiving sword game needs some extra meaning,” said Graeme Raymond, Chicopee Comp head coach.
While the Colts were looking to maintain their dominance in this rivalry, the pacers were looking to win the mayor’s sword for the first time since 2012. Senior Chicopee center Jahiem Thompson played in his third and final sword game.
He calls it a special event for all residents of the city.
“Everyone is leaving. It looks like a big event in this city. Everyone comes before having a good meal later in the night. It’s been since my coach was born. I know it’s special, so I just give it my all,” he said.
The winner of the game receives an 1890s sword donated by the mayor of the city. Thompson also called this game the Chicopee Super Bowl. And the students and graduates who filled the stands made this feeling a reality. One spectator, Heather Johnson, watched her son Noah, a Chicopee Comp freshman, play his first sword game. She also admitted that her other son, Trevor, was a quarterback for the Chicopee Comp a few years ago. She humorously warned Noah before the game began.
“I told him that he had better leave the sword, otherwise Thanksgiving dinner would be hard for him … This is the most exciting thing. I am the epitome of a football mom. What I say is not always the most appropriate, so I try my best. But I’m my son’s biggest fan and I love all these boys. I root for every number on the team.”
Although it was the last game of the season for both programs, it was also a celebration. Pacers head coach Alex Efstratios says the game has a different meaning when played on Thanksgiving. He wanted his players to give everything they had, no matter who won.
“As long as you play hard and give 100%, both coaches will be fine. I’ll be fine with that. And I just want the kids… to play hard and come out of it knowing they’re giving 100% and whatever happens will happen,” he said.
Regardless of who wins or loses, players and coaches have a lot to be thankful for.
“I am grateful for my mom, my family, my siblings, my coaches, my friends and especially my teammates. They always understood me and made sure I was on the right track,” Thompson said.
“I’m just grateful that (my players) are showing up and doing their best, and they’re trying to grow as players, but also as people,” Raymond said.
While the pride of the city was at stake, every player, coach and spectator was happy to celebrate Thanksgiving and the sport they love together. The Chicopee Comp gets to keep the sword for another year with a final score of 28-10.
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