Bulldogs! Cougars! Dragons?


Zach Plahn

Sophomores Barry Hoffman, Nicholas O'Conner and Jared May play football for rival schools, Ventura and Buena. Credit: Bethany Fankhauser/The Foothill Dragon Press
Sophomores Barry Hoffman, Nicholas O’Conner and Jared May play football for rival schools, Ventura and Buena. Credit: Bethany Fankhauser/The Foothill Dragon Press

When I walk onto the campus of Buena High School, I find Bulldogs: 2,000 Bulldogs. When I walk onto Ventura High School’s campus, I find Cougars: 2,000 Cougars. When I walk onto Foothill’s campus, I find…Dragons?

Ask any student at Foothill Technology High School, the deep maroon mythical beast isn’t the school’s real mascot. Even though it is staring down at students from a massive mural every morning and every afternoon, no one on campus considers themselves dragons. You’re either a Bulldog or a Cougar. No exceptions.

The Buena-Ventura rivalry has lasted for more than 50 years, and has now stealthily placed itself in the midst of Foothill. Because Foothill can’t afford sports programs, it is forced to send its student athletes off to its border schools, so that they can participate in sports. The two border schools are Buena and Ventura.

As a result of this system, the school is divided by the intense rivalry. It isn’t hard to find Ventura athletes sitting with each other, and it’s not hard to find Buena athletes sitting side by side. However, if you try to find a social circle consisting of both Bulldogs and Cougars, good luck. I’m not saying they aren’t out there, they are. I know where many of them sit during lunch period. My social circle, which consists of all Bulldogs, has one lonely Cougar, but that’s okay. He’s pretty cool. 

Because Foothill is divided by this rivalry, there are often conversations filled with trash talk, and competitive discussions among students. Some are joking but most aren’t. And you know what? I’m proud to be a Bulldog water polo player.

If you give me any chance at being able to beat a Cougar at anything, I’m going to take that opportunity. I’m sure the same goes for any Cougar. Bulldogs hate Cougars, and Cougars hate Bulldogs. That is a fact, and there is nothing Foothill can do to change that. What Foothill needs to do is to create a diversion. 

As a school that takes pride in its academic success, Foothill is not the coolest school. It is the smartest. But let’s face the facts: students aren’t going to take pride in the fact that we got a 912 score on the CST’s last year. Students take pride in the school with the awesome football team, or the school with the baseball team that is untouchable, but not the school that got good grades. Foothill needs pride. Foothill needs strength. Foothill needs unity.

But how? How can Foothill create an event, or an activity, that is equal to a Buena-Ventura football game, or provide an event that delivers the same atmosphere as a Buena-Ventura water polo game? Foothill simply can’t compete with that kind of school spirit.

I love Spirit Week. ASB put on a fantastic week-long party that I guarantee no other school could’ve thrown. The balloon toss was so much fun, maybe because my partner and I won. Western Day was cool, in a weird way, and Pajama Day was comfortable. But, even during spirit week, Foothill couldn’t avoid the rivalry. During Sports Day, the Foothill campus was sprinkled with blue and yellow jerseys, and trash talk. There was a Buena vs. Ventura tug-of-war. But even the tug-of-war caused student conflict. The winning side would gain bragging rights in the school, but the losing side couldn’t wait to point out the victors’ shortcomings as an actual sports team. It’s a chain reaction from there.

When one student boasts about their border school, the opposing side is almost forced into defending their own border school. It is a Bulldog’s responsibility to defend Buena, and a Cougars responsibility to defend Ventura. Foothill can’t help that. It needs a diversion: unique aspects of the school that will make students unite as a whole, while on campus. It won’t be easy to make students forget something so powerful as the rivalry. I know I can’t, especially when somebody insults my border school. It lights a fire inside of me. I’m not a Dragon: I am a Bulldog.

What do you think?