All across Facebook Friday night, photographs like the one to the left of this article were popping up. John S. Battle fans were shown pouring onto the football field in celebration of their victory over nearby Virginia High School. This is not a sports column, but this is not really a sports story either, so to speak.
Be true to your school
This is an interesting story of renewal at a school that has no specific town or city to wave their banner and has had an often-troubled football program for many years. Tonight, the county school won a football game against the city school of their shared town; in the past, it was most often an embarrassing evening for John S. Battle players and fans. More interestingly, they won under the leadership of their new, very well-respected coach, Coach Steve Wright, a 1978 graduate of Virginia High School!
We will omit stats, highlights, or other sports trappings that can be found in many other venues. What is interesting to examine is that these two schools are so entwined and have been through the years, especially since the City of Bristol annexed a large body of Washington County’s students in 1974. In the stands Friday night, there were many parents on the John Battle side who themselves attended Virginia High, and the same was true for the Virginia High side of the field. Many students at each school and probably some on the field were zoned to attend the other school, but pay a small, agreed-upon fee to attend the school that they choose.
It depends on where you are!
The city limits of Bristol, Virginia, are actually surrounded by Washington County, Virginia, and Bristol, Tennessee, and it is often difficult to ascertain if someone is in Virginia High Bearcat country, John S. Battle Trojan county, or Tennessee High Viking country! (To illustrate that fact, this writer, now residing across the state line in Tennessee, attended Virginia High but has children who cheered and played football at John S. Battle.)
It takes a leader
Finally, another interesting thing cited from posts on Facebook is that regardless of the side of town from which anyone hails, there is not a person in Bristol who is not impressed with Coach Steve Wright, his career, and more importantly, his character. This night was indeed a new start for John S. Battle! It is important also to note that Virginia High School has actually had something to do with that.
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