The dawn of Red and Gray 2021 was upon us. By 6 AM, the air was filled with the buzz only known to those who’ve been through it - a few hundred kids already running all over sharing the news as to which team they are on. Each boy awoke to find a colored ribbon pinned to his pillow under the cover of darkness, denoting the team he will compete for, battle and “sweat” for, and sing and cheer his heart out for, over the next 5 days. It’s Skylemar’s most storied tradition - the 73rd edition of the greatest show on earth - our Color War. You could almost taste the sweet smell of excitement from anywhere on camp.
But nope. That smell was actually another Skylemar staple - the annual Red and Gray Buffet. What better way to kick-off the favorite week of the summer then by having our own favorite “breakfast of champions” – a choice of bacon, sausage, eggs, cinnamon rolls, French toast, cereals, potatoes, muffins, yogurt, oatmeal, Danish pastry, fresh-cut fruit and on and on …the combinations were endless, and the boys heartily fueled up for the start of what will be an incredible week of action.
After breakfast and the routine morning inspection – the loudspeaker bellowed, “Red Team to the Pine Grove, Gray Team to the Mail House” as the teams gathered for the first of many “psych-up” meetings to come. Each teammate locked arms in a circle of strength, as team leaders implored and inspired with words of encouragement, pounding cheers and pump-up music, looking for a week of maximum effort and hopeful of ultimate victory.
Then, both teams were called to the Fred Pierce Field, which again would serve as the official Opening Day venue like it has for the past 72 Color Wars. As is our custom, all participants remain for the first full inning before heading out for Divisional play to every corner of camp. A few moments later, after Super Tutor Marge threw the ceremonial first pitch, Umpire Shep proclaimed “Play ball!” and Color War 2021 was off and running.
The Stars played a double dip, with a game on both fields. At the Fred Pierce Field, after a 4-pitch top of the first, Gray opened the bottom half with a first inning home run barrage to jump ahead 4-0, and never looked back in a 15-3 win. Bennett and Reece each smashed 3 home runs, and Josh B hit a pair. Charlie S also went yard for the winners, while Sam M took one deep for the Red in defeat. However, on the middle diamond, Red’s fielders proved defense can still win by holding Gray off the bases in a 4-1 win to split the twin bill.
After the 1st inning was complete, the other Divisions headed out all over camp for contests in just about everything, The Cubs went over to the Hockey court where Gray impressed with back-to-back shutouts to win both games. Max P and Nate F scored 7 goals between them in Game 1, while Carter and Inigo provided all the offense needed in Game 2’s victory.
Gray also won Tigers football by a couple of TDs, with Anders, Thatcher and Oscar doing most of the damage.
On the Hoops courts, a tripleheader of games for the Freshmen -- after losing the first game, Red came back to win both Games 2 and 3, each by just a bucket to eek out the Basketball point for Red. Then Red followed up over on the Hejduk Field with a hard-fought 5-3 win in Juniors soccer. And further, even though Gray won the swimming portion down at Trickey, Red Skiers and Kayakers carried Red to the finish line to win Seniors Waterfront – another extremely close morning contest, which went down to the final skier to determine the overall winner.
Gray got back on track though with news of their victories in Sophomores Bocce, then Golf - highlighted by Nathan K’s hole-in-one!
Jacob R hit the back of the net 5 times as Gray dominated Game 1 in Sophs Hockey at the rink
Only a half point separated the teams, with 5 contests decided in the last minute of action….and this was just the beginning.
In the afternoon, the Cubs put on quite a show down on the Pond. According to Super Aquatics Director Peter, it was maybe the closest scoring he’s ever seen, with each of the 3 segments in question up for grabs ‘til the finish. The 4x25 relay needed a “photo finish” to confirm the winner, and saw the Red hand touch first giving them the Swim portion win by just a point. Over on the boat dock, the paddlers were set for the two-heat, total time kayak races – decided by a measly 1.5 seconds combined in favor of Gray, setting up the ski-off to determine the overall Waterfront point, where Gray's Santi prevailed.
Up on the Bunkline gridiron, Red Lts. Logan and DMar ran and passed it all over the field to win Stars Football, despite the multiple TD efforts of Ethan K to stay in it for Gray. Over on the SkyLinks, Red jumped out fast, winning the first 5 matches, then completed the Seniors sweep with a win in the Bocce Garden as well.
Gray won both Sophomores Hockey games over on the rink. Jacob R was unstoppable, hitting the back of the net 5 times in Game 1. In game 2, outstanding goalie play by Aiden R and Elias G kept it close, 2-1.
Red dominated Freshmen Tennis, winning 4 of the 6 singles and doubles matches, cementing the victory by carrying the Skills competition as well.
The two most exciting contests of the day nearly ended at the same time, with cheers emanating wildly and simultaneously from both Sky I and Sky II. Just as Ollie H was swarmed after putting the finishing touches on a nifty, 1-0, two-hit shutout in Tigers Baseball on the Freddie Pierce for Red, the noise level rose from the Hejduk as Jesse R scored the game-winner with 14 seconds left to settle a back-and-forth, high-intensity 8-7 nip and tuck affair for Gray in Juniors Lacrosse. Whew! What a day….and we weren’t quite done yet.
Red now had the slightest of leads – 1 point, as we awaited the results of the traditional first night’s Color War activity – Ping Pong. And this one didn’t disappoint either. Under the Pavilion lights in the most competitive, festive outdoor Ping Pong environment to date, the Gray team, down 2 matches with 3 to play, swept all 3 to win the Ping Pong point….and end Day 1 with the score tied, dead even, all square! Unbelievable - 22 total events. Tie score, we want more!