FALLS VILLAGE >> When a Housatonic High School bus crosses the Massachusetts state line this afternoon for a 5:15 volleyball game against Mt. Everett, the Mountaineers continue a tradition that’s unique in Connecticut.
Other schools cross borders for scrimmages and tournaments. Housatonic, in the far Northwest Corner of the state, plays home-and-away series with nearby neighbors in Massachusetts, with plans to return to New York as well.
“With our location in the tri-state area, we foster the relationship,” said Housatonic Athletic Director Anne MacNeil.
“I grew up in New York,” she said. “I have memories of volleyball weeks when we would play Housatonic.”
In the ‘80s, when MacNeil was at Dover High School (Dover Plains, New York), the Mountaineer football team belonged to the Bi-Valley League, comprised mostly of teams close to the New York/Connecticut border.
“Housy was slightly larger than us, so they were good,” MacNeil recalls.
MacNeil’s AD predecessor, Dan Carroll, revived the cross-border tradition three or four years ago, MacNeil said, when he scheduled Mt. Everett and Monument Mountain (just north of Great Barrington) for sports like volleyball, basketball, baseball and ice hockey with the flexibility to play non-league contests.
Now MacNeil hopes to extend the schedule back across the New York border as well.
“We share similarities with those schools,” she said. “We’re small and strongly community-based. It just lends itself to competitive athletics.”
The borders are the artificial part.
The Mountaineers themselves come from six towns from southern Kent to North Canaan along route 7.
Sheffield and Great Barrington are just a little further up the road.
Towns like Amenia, New York, where MacNeil’s husband Todd grew up – and Dover Plains – are just a little farther west via route 4.
“Our kids come together and work well together,” said MacNeil. “Each community is strong and gets along well.”
They border on inspiration.