Fairmont-Alter rivalry brings out best in students, community

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Photo: Sam Barton

Fairmont’s offense awaits the snap at the line of scrimmage during a recent Fairmont vs. Alter game.

Kettering, Ohio, is home to two high schools: Fairmont High School and Alter Archbishop High School. Obviously, this is nothing new to citizens, but it does seem to create a divide between their respective students.

Since Fairmont and Alter are roughly 3 miles apart, Kettering neighborhoods are often mixed with Fairmont and Alter households. According to senior Alter football player Connor Wood, this builds friendship among students from both schools, which is great for the community.

“I think, since you could be next-door neighbors with a kid from Fairmont (or Alter), it helps build friendships between the two schools,” Wood said.

The City of Kettering should be thankful to have two high schools, Wood says.

“I think the rivalry between Fairmont and Alter is beneficial because they lend themselves to creating a very passionate rivalry, which I think can really bring out the best in both schools,” he said. “The rivalry brings the city of Kettering together.”

Wood also claims both schools do good jobs of not letting the tension on the playing field spill out into the community.

“I haven’t seen the rivalry go too far. I have a lot of friends from Fairmont and I can say both schools leave everything on the field,” Wood said.

Wood has nothing but praise for the Fairmont-Alter rivalry, especially the annual football contest, and he said he would hate to see it ever end.

“This game has been played for decades now, and I’m sure I, along with the Kettering community, would love to see this [rivalry] continue for as long as possible.”

Whenever the Firebirds and Knights square off against each other, hundreds of students and alumni flock to the ticket windows. Kettering residents who have no tie to either school still come out on those Friday nights to watch both teams take the field because of the tremendous atmosphere this rivalry creates.

Fairmont Athletic Director Chris Weaver speaks highly of Fairmont and Alter’s rivalry on the football field.

“The Fairmont-Alter football game is one of the best rivalries in high school football in my opinion,” Weaver said. “The Firebirds enter this game each season excited and proud to represent their school and community, always leaving it all on the field. To open Week One  with one of your biggest games of the year requires a great deal of preparation and emotion by all the coaches and athletes.”

Fairmont senior Girls’ Basketball player Shea Morgan says she also believes the rivalry against Alter is great for the city of Kettering, but she feels it hasn’t reached its full potential. Fairmont and Alter’s Girls’ Basketball teams haven’t scheduled each other on the hardwood for numerous years, and Morgan believes it’s time to do so.

“I know that both teams have been dying to play each other because every other sport [at Fairmont] gets to play Alter except for us. So I think the rivalry could become a lot stronger if we could play each other,” Morgan said.

One of Alter’s most well-known football players, Dan Morrison, is known by just about every Firebird football player. Morrison, one of the most passionate players in the rivalry, believes the winner of the Fairmont-Alter football game shows who is more dominant.

“I would describe the Alter vs. Fairmont rivalry as one where both sides go at it more than any other game. It matters who wins because it shows dominance, and it’s all about the pride,” he said.

In recent years, the Fairmont-Alter rivalry has been fueled even more because of the ongoing battle between student sections. Both schools’ student sections are rocking the bleachers for the entire game and trying to get in the other team’s head with an array of chants.

For sports lovers anywhere, a trip to Roush Stadium or Trent Arena for the “the battle of Kettering” speaks for itself. The level of intensity and sportsmanship from the players and coaches certainly brings the city of Kettering together in what is a great “old-school” rivalry.

Although the socioeconomic contrast between the students at each school is likely exaggerated, some people suggest the rivalry is also fueled by a perception that it’s a feud between “blue-collar” Fairmont and “white-collar” Alter. Fairmont is a public school that uses mostly taxpayer dollars to function, while Alter’s yearly tuition can exceed $11,000.

In the end, however, it comes down to the athletes and the fans. Morrison is already looking forward to the August football matchup.

“We don’t want to lose to each other,” he said. “I’m looking forward to Aug. 29th.”