Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Bell Comes Home

"The Battle for the Bell" is the name that Gaston Day School and Gaston Christian School have given to a one-day, multi-sport competition held between our two schools each fall. The name comes from a large bronze bell that the Gaston Day School Class of 2007 gave as its senior gift. For a number of
years, the Class of 2007 Bell sat in the lobby of the Pamela Kimbrell Warlick Visual and Performing Arts Center as a symbol of school spirit. But beyond its presence, the bell had no real meaning or purpose in school life.

All that changed about five or six years ago, when Athletic Director Casey Field and I approached our friends at Gaston Christian with the idea of formalizing our rivalry each fall with a contest to see who had the best overall fall sports program. The winner of the most contests in our one-day, multi-sport competition--including all our different fall sports teams--would get to keep the bell for a year as evidence of victory.

For the first several years, Gaston Day prevailed, and we retained the bell. But two years ago, our schools tied, with each school winning and losing the same number of games in the Battle for the Bell. So Gaston Day kept the bell, but on a technicality. Then a year later, and for the first time, Gaston Christian won, and the bell travelled to our rival's campus. Last year, Gaston Christian beat us even more soundly in the various games and matches, and the bell stayed at their school for another year. At this point in the history of the rivalry, Gaston Day found itself in the uncomfortable position of not having our victory bell on our own campus for an extended period of time. The soundness of the losses last year also really stung. Yes, the bell belonged to Gaston Day School, but if we ever wanted to bring it home, then we had to reclaim it on the fields, courses, and courts of athletic competition. 

Yesterday was the annual Battle for the Bell. Our middle school girls volleyball team won and so did our girls cross country team to get Gaston Day off to a strong start. The two schools tied in middle school soccer. Gaston Christian won varsity boys cross country and varsity boys soccer. Both our junior varsity and varsity girls volleyball teams won. The varsity volleyball match was particularly thrilling. Our girls had never beaten Gaston Christian before. They won in three straight, hard-fought games. The level of competition between the two squads was high and the competition was fierce. Our ladies came back from four or five points down in the final match to seal the victory. At last, the bell was home! 

At the conclusion of yesterday's varsity volleyball match, students stormed the court as the GDS victory triggered a mad celebration. I positioned myself some distance away on the court to make sure that the celebration remained orderly. Suddenly, I looked up at the track surrounding the court and saw several of the varsity volleyballers running toward the bell, which was stationed upstairs on the track, awaiting the final outcome of the day's contests. They grabbed the clapper and started ringing the bell as a way of proclaiming the victory that was not only theirs, but all of Gaston Day School's. I must admit hearing the bell sent a thrill right through me. It was the sound of GDS school spirit!!

Third graders with the Bell
Who knows who will claim the victory bell next year? Our Gaston Christian friends and rivals will make every effort to win it back and proudly display it on their campus. But not this year. Until next year's battle, all Spartans can enjoy the fruits of victory. After its two year absence, having the bell back is even sweeter! Congratulations to all our teams and coaches for returning the bell to Gaston Day School for the next twelve months!!

Click Here for the 50th Anniversary video