By BRIAN O’SULLIVAN ’16
A s the leaves begin to change and the days become shorter here at Millville, the entire community is getting back into its daily routine. Through all of the stressful classes and various other commitments, athletics always give us a reprieve from the demands of daily life on campus. One of the best ways we come together as a community through athletics is the seasonal “Night Game.” This fall’s contest was a great showing by Girl’s Varsity Soccer against New Hampton School. While the girls were ultimately defeated, many thought the game brought the community together in school spirit and camaraderie. With such a great crowd on hand, some were left wondering, why don’t we have more night games throughout the fall?
St. Paul’s School is known for its plethora of athletic facilities. From the indoor tennis courts, to the “Cage,” the wide range of options for sports teams on campus is virtually unparalleled at the secondary school level. Home to the Girls Field Hockey and both Varsity Lacrosse teams, the Bogle-Lechner Turf Field is known as one of the best athletic venues on campus and is the School’s only synthetic field. While the field has definitely served a purpose for some teams, other teams have not gotten as much use of the turf. Although Boys Varsity Football had a night game on the turf last year, it has yet to receive one this year. Furthermore, while both Varsity Soccer teams have night games planned this term, they do not get nearly as much time on the turf as the Hockey and Lacrosse teams.
With this in mind, some in the community have started to wonder if it would be a good thing to have more night games for different sports on the turf field. In fact, some of SPS’ peer schools have night games on a weekly basis to bring their community together and support their teams on the field. For example, our fellow Independent School League team Buckingham Browne & Nichols will play three of their four home football games on Friday night, with their season finale being against the Big Red. Though they are a day school, BB&N prove that it is possible to enjoy the cliché “Friday Night Lights” while also being in the ISL. With St. Paul’s Football having no home games at night this season, most games will have few students present because of their respective athletic commitments.
Football would not be the only sport to benefit from night games; regardless of the sport being played, night games have been known to drum up School spirit and community bonding. “I think more night games would be great for the school. It is definitely a great experience to have other kids cheering you on when you play. It’s just a different atmosphere, and it really adds to the excitement,” said Alexa Antoniazzi ’16. Aside from bringing the school together in support for fellow students, night games have historically been opportunities for various halftime performances by student groups as well as an inter-form bonding experience.
While some think more night games would be a great addition to student life here on campus, more night games could be an issue for a number of reasons. For one, planning night games is often a logistical challenge, as it requires coordinating with other schools and asking them to make the long trek to SPS. “The biggest constraint is that not many schools want to travel to SPS to play a night game, given it gets them home late,” said Athletic Director Scott Heitmiller. Mr. Heitmiller also noted that SPS’ abundance of evening commitments is another obstacle in scheduling games. “We do our best to get as many as we can without disrupting evening commitments,” says Mr. Heitmiller. Finally, Mr. Heitmiller notes that it is simply impossible for certain sports to receive night games. “We try to keep it fair and equal between all teams, obviously considering teams that can play at night with lights. Some sports just can’t be night game choices.”