Both Alike in Dignity

Harvard on the line.
Harvard on the line. // Brianna Loo

This evening, a shuttle bus will depart Cambridge, Mass. for New Haven. Brian Krentz will be one of the eager freshmen awaiting their first Harvard-Yale Game. But, Krentz has had an understanding of the Harvard-Yale rivalry for a little longer. In New Haven, his cousin will be waiting for him: Yale freshman, Claire Williamson ’17.

The two of them are one of many pairs who will find themselves split along the sidelines when we come together for the game on Saturday. For many, this is a chance to poke fun at the other school in person, instead of from afar. But how does this ridicule affect divided friends and family?

Krentz and Williamson, who grew up an hour from each other in Chicago, are from a line of Harvard and Yale graduates. Five of the family members attended Yale as undergraduates, and three attended Harvard. Competition was a natural part of growing up, even if it was mostly “honest family fun,” as Williamson insists.

Williamson has it easy. Both of her parents went to Yale. But no matter The Game’s final score, Krentz will have to deal with one disappointed parent, as he surely did when he decided to go to Harvard.

“I know my dad is very proud about his Yale undergraduate experience and so he is always stirring up Yale pride at home and at the reunion,” he said. “He will actually be rooting for Yale from Chicago this year while my mom is rooting for Harvard.”

Is it awkward? Apparently not for them, but upon discovering the two cousins would be attending college at the same time, the rest of their family started to play up the contested history between Harvard and Yale.

Williamson pointed out that, “from tennis to capture the flag,” she and her cousin were always reminded of their supposed competition.

“Our family is very competitive and our aunts and uncles were eager to use the Harvard-Yale situation to try and create rivalry between us.” Krentz said, but added that it didn’t quite work.

The two have remained close despite their affiliation with rival schools and, while they may wear different colors at family reunions, both agreed their friendship will ultimately come first.

* * *

Some Harvard-Yale friendships don’t contain the familial tie that Krentz and Williamson have. Some have formed since the beginning of college, and some even have found The Game as a facilitator for long-lasting friendships.

Julia Biedry, a sophomore at Harvard, met some Yale friends this summer, and they seem to have been able to put their differences aside. Biedry partook in a Harvard Summer Session in Greece. Yale students were on the program, and Biedry sees The Game as a time for everyone to catch up.

“Our program became a big family, and we’re all planning on meeting up at The Game for our first reunion,” she said.

Biedry also spoke of a budding romance that emerged during the program, something akin to “Romeo and Juliet.” But the hands of fate seem to be in this couple’s favor, for now, as they will also have a chance to see each other because of The Game.

But her trip down isn’t just about personal friendships. Her a cappella group, The Veritones, will be performing with Out of The Blue on Friday evening, as part of a “relatively new tradition” she said.

Along with numerous other performers on campus, she’ll be seeing Yale through the eyes of students who lead a similar life in a different location. Both groups perform songs from the same genres, but Biedry said this was a chance to see how her “sister group” operates on a different campus.

“We loved performing and mixing with OOTB, and we’re all really excited for this year, especially those of us who haven’t had a Game at Yale yet,” she said.

* * *

The banter between Harvard and Yale students will never run completely dry. The array of wit donning this year’s Game shirts speak of how much Yale enjoys mocking its foresworn enemy. And it appears that this mocking is also a feature of the friendships that span between the Harvard and Yale campuses.

Will Viederman ’17 from Amherst, Mass., fondly talks about one of his good childhood friends. They met through their parents, and grew up with the closeness that comes from being “the same age in a family group.” But after regular family meet-ups, the pair parted ways when Viederman came to Yale, and his friend went to Harvard.

“My parents met at his parents’ wedding. He was born a month before me, and now we are blood enemies,” Viederman said.

Despite the jokes, Viederman is clearly reveling in the irony of friends split into rival schools. But he’s planning to leave the majority of the jibes to the experts.

“I’ll try and get in a few digs, but I’m going to leave the clever puns and jokes to the people designing The Game T-shirts,” he said.

So, even though most of Yale will also don these shirts and mock our age-old rival, maybe it’s OK to find a friend at Harvard. After all, these kids need someone to console them when they realize Yale is superior.

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