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Uniquely Medfield: When North Fought South in the Medfield Public Schools

Town Historian Richard DeSorgher remembers when the town had two elementary schools and the rivalry between them.

 

Today, students in the Medfield Public School system enjoy a sense of harmony in the grade organization of the town’s five school buildings: Memorial, Dale, Wheelock, Blake and Medfield High School.

From the students' first experience of kindergarten at the Memorial School, all town students stay together through graduation at Medfield High School; K-1 at Memorial, 2-3 at Wheelock, 4-5 at Dale, 6-8 at the Blake Middle School and 9-12 at Medfield High School. The camaraderie the students enjoy results in knowing each other and that stays with them and builds as the students march towards graduation. The small town atmosphere of “knowing everyone” is unique to Medfield in their system of keeping all students in the same grade and not dividing them by areas of town.

But this has not always been the case.

From 1969, when the Ralph Wheelock School opened, until the declining enrollments of the 1980s -- 1982 to be exact -- the grade organization of the Medfield schools was divided on a Hatfield/McCoy, north/south boundary. Those living in the north end of town attended grades one through six in the Memorial/Dale complex and those living in the south end of town attended grades one through six in the Ralph Wheelock School.

One of the rivalries that developed between the northerners and southerners was in the annual sixth grade basketball tournament between the two sections. This tournament, usually a best out of three, became a town-wide event. Games were played in the neutral then Junior High court, except when the final game three was to decide the winner. For that game, so many students, parents and townspeople turned out that the action had to be shifted to the larger high school gym.

The 1973 spring classic was one of the most exciting of examples, as a new glistening trophy was added to the experience. Arriving at the neutral court of the then junior high school, the first game was so packed that the 150 spectators, along with the players, had to be moved to the senior high gym to guarantee seats for all.  During that first game, the Wheelock team held a slight lead throughout the game, ending with a final score of South 21, North 16.

In the second game, North was ahead of South at the half-time but then fell behind. Ronny Shiels from North pulled his team back into the lead with two foul shots and the North held on for a 21-20 victory. In each of the games, players form the MHS varsity “Big Blue” team acted as the referees. 

In the final game, excitement peaked. Cheerleaders from each side rocked the boisterous crowd into a frenzy.  At half-time, Dale Street coach Kevin Demeritt told his team they needed to stop South standouts “Pistol Pete” Farrar, Billy Zuccarini, Mike Cote and Mike Bedozian.  At the same time, Coach Tom Cowell of Wheelock was telling his players they had to shut down North all-stars Danny DiMezza, Steve Mills and Doug Fetteroll. When the game ended at regulation time, all was tied. Overtime brought Wheelock a 35-33 victory and the new trophy for their school.

All players received “Big Blue” sweatshirts and the rivalry spilled out into the elementary haunts throughout town only to come to a hold the following September when both North and South six-graders joined together for the first time in the Junior High (later Middle School) grades. With the closure of the Dale Street School in 1982 due to declining enrollments, and then a reorganization and closure of the Memorial School, all town students, north and south, were once again in the same school and the North/South divide, along with the basketball rivalry, ended. 

Chad November 03, 2012 at 01:36 PM
At 60 yrs. old all I remember about basketball from those grades is being on a team with Dale Elliot and Steve Girrard... feeding them passes for a score anytime I got mobbed. And score they did, as I recall! I have a newspaper article I just showed my daughter citing victorious hockey games from Dale's expertise...
GM November 04, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Richard, were you a game announcer even back then? That's a pretty detailed recounting of a junior high basketball series! Thanks!
Richard DeSorgher November 06, 2012 at 03:45 AM
GM, I may be old but not that old- was still in college then- The story came from accounts we had at the Historical Society and the newspapers of the time.

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