We Bleed Blue

The first thing I thought when I got off the bus at Exeter was, “Wow, this place is miserable.” I suppose we picked the wrong day to come; it was as if the sky had an overactive bladder. The rain poured down relentlessly from the moment we stepped off the bus that morning to when we got back on it at five o’clock. We were tired, soaked and a little worse for wear. I had only been to Exeter once before, on an ill-fated tour and interview so laughably awkward that I chose to not even apply. That said, my second visit to Exeter was not about finding its strengths, but pointing out its flaws by way of a sarcastic jeer so loud it threatened to crack the cement of Phelps Stadium (or, in our case, break the scoreboard). Dressed in five layers of blue, gripping umbrellas like lifelines, we trudged from sporting event to sporting event on roads that seemed more like sludgy, winding worms than pavement. For the first few games, our energy didn’t waver. Perhaps that was because our jeans were still relatively dry, and our bags had not yet soaked through completely. Either way, it wasn’t until the 2:30 that our morale was truly tested. For two cold, soggy hours, we stood and wondered why we were there. We screamed so that our throats would be warmer than the rest of us. We huddled in little groups under giant umbrellas, hugging warm strangers, occasionally saying things like, “God, we’re getting killed,” or “I want to go back to my bed and lie in the fetal position,” or “Why would anyone go to Sadie after this?” We poked three holes in trash bags and wore them as armor, fighting against pneumonia, hypothermia and the triumphant cheers of the Exeter stands. On the bus back to Andover, squelching in our seats, I turned to my friend who was fighting the urge to sleep and said, “Why did we do this again?” Today, after a shower and a clean pair of jeans, I can look back on Andover/Exeter weekend with a little more clarity. It’s true that the football game was two hours of Exeter fans screaming, “WHY SO QUIET?” in our ears. And it’s also true that I, like so many of others, woke up the next morning with a case of what I call the Undefined Miserable Winter Sickness, borne from standing in the rain in five soaked layers. My phone is spasming, my friend’s iPod stopped working and another friend’s North Face got trashed in that Cage they can’t floor properly. On paper, Saturday could have been seen as a defeat, as a loss, as eight hours of drenched hell. Still, after all the difficulties suffered, some facts remain clear: despite the obvious storm ahead, 14 full buses of high school students headed out to watch and play in the pouring rain. The bleachers at the volleyball game were so decidedly blue that we couldn’t all fit on one side of the stands. Blue Key Heads, sweat, rain and paint dripping down their faces, led cheers while standing inches deep in mud and rain. A crowd clad in blue braved a long, cold, disappointing football game, huddled under umbrellas but cheering themselves hoarse. Students and teachers, children and alumni, freezing, wet and discouraged, came together for one common goal: beating Exeter. Or, at least, being louder than Exeter. Thea Raymond-Sidel is a two-year Lower from Iowa City, IA.