Rice & BHS: The Rivalry Throughout History


Photo: Jake Bucci/Register

Theo Davis

Everyone knows the rivalry BHS has with Rice, but not everyone knows where it comes from. Interestingly enough, most rivalries between public and private Catholic schools all started the same way, and it goes way farther back in history than one would think. If you’ve ever been to a Burlington, Rice game, no matter what the sport, it can get pretty out of hand. Going back for what seems like forever, the rivalry between Rice and Burlington has been a strong one. But an even deeper rivalry is that of the history between public and religious private schools which is where ours sprouted from. During the early nineteenth century, most of the United States was Protestant. Protestants had their own public schools which for them met their need for religious education, however, these schools did not fit the needs of the waves of Catholic immigrants coming from Ireland. Catholics did not feel welcome in the predominantly Protestant schools. The Catholics created an established network of parish schools which provided a private, and impressive education for those who followed Catholicism as well as preserving their religion. These Catholic schools began to provide a greater education than their public counterparts, at a cost. This tug of war provided the roots for a strong rivalry between institutions.

Our rivalry with Rice started with the consolidation of “Cathedral High School” as it was called then, and its relocation to Proctor Avenue in South Burlington where it still exists today. With a total enrollment of 880 students in 1959, Rice’s population has been halved now standing at 417 as of last year. You might wonder how they still compete with BHS, a school of 1,150 students, at an athletic level with such a small group of students from which to pick. Rice has been known to recruit athletes from Burlington, as well as the rest of Vermont to play for them under scholarship. This provides them with a decent amount of solid athletes and the ability to compete with Burlington.

The rivalry between Rice and BHS was likely formed because of the ferocious competition between the schools to prove which is better. Whether it’s the atmosphere, academics, or sports, the relationship between these two schools is and always will be excitingly competitive.

Recently Burlington has had a string of success versus our rival. The past two years in the basketball state championship, Burlington and Rice have faced off. Both intense games, Rice taking the championship in 2015, and Burlington taking back the crown last winter. The Seahorses also took on our rival once again for our homecoming game, we defeated the Green Knights 30-20. That win marked our second in a row against Rice, after previously losing 5 times straight in home openers.