Even before the snow melts on the athletic field west of campus, students become excited for the Shaker Road School flag football season. Of the twenty or more sports and clubs available to students at SRS, flag football may be the most popular. But why? Sure, football is incredibly popular in the United States, and we live in Patriots country, which may explain the added fervor, but recreational flag football after school with teachers as the quarterbacks – what’s the draw there? Perhaps the key to its popularity is the focus on fun, community, team loyalty, and healthy competition – qualities unfortunately lacking in many other activities today. For the teachers, flag football at SRS is reminiscent of their own childhood afternoons playing pickup sports with friends. It doesn’t get much better.
For the uninitiated, beginning in Fifth Grade students have the option to play flag football on one of four intramural teams. Sometime just after the Winter Break in February, students are selected by Eighth Graders to play for teams with long histories – some more successful than others. Four teams, almost tribal in nature at this point, compete for the annual Shaker Bowl trophy. Games begin in late March or early April in cold, wet, and sometimes snowy weather. New players learn the school-specific rules and the oddities that make up the school game. Quickly, some teams stand out as contenders, while at least one team knows immediately it will struggle. Irrespective of the final regular-season schedules, all teams make the playoffs and have a shot at playground glory: The Shaker Bowl trophy, a paper-mâché football painted with tempera from the art room.
Matt Hicks with The Kraken player Gavin Scoon (SRS ’14). Gavin excelled in academics and football at St. Thomas Aquinas High School and is currently studying Sustainable Agriculture at the University of New Hampshire.
Shaker Bowl Trophy
Ellie and Abbie holding the Shaker Bowl trophy and The Kraken team flag
The four middle school teams were originally named by students in the mid-2000s from a long list of mythical creatures. Players remain on their teams for up to four years, and legend has it that some students may adopt their teams’ characteristics by Eighth Grade. Team Minotaurs, with the head and tail of a bull and the body of a man, have reigned supreme recently after several years of struggle. Team Centaurs, with the upper body of a human and lower body of a horse, were dominant for many years before recently falling on hard times. Team Phoenix, formerly known as Team Ipotane, or the “wannabe Centaurs” according to rivals, have spent many years in the flag football basement until being rebranded Team Phoenix and rising from the ashes to finally become a Shaker Bowl contender. Finally, Team “THE” Kraken are the only aquatic team, spreading its many tentacles to snag opponents’ advances. After many years of dominance and the most Shaker Bowl titles, the vaunted (Release THE) Kraken look to have a few rebuilding years ahead.
The simplistic beauty of flag football is its home-grown nature. SRS Flag Football asks that students and teachers arrive with a positive attitude and sense of humor. It is all about fun and community. The trophy and jersey artwork are even student-made. It may not always be the most skillful game to watch, but it provides enough comic relief to bury winter doldrums for good. So as the weather warms, Shaker Road School students gather across the street to help create old-fashioned glory days and help their teachers dream a little of what the life of a pro-quarterback must be like.