Huskies vs. Friars: A Brief History of the OPRF & Fenwick Rivalry

The rivalry between the two Oak Park high schools goes back to when the schools were built, whether its about sports, academics, or just who is the better overall school. Oak Park River Forest (OPRF) is a public school built in 1873, while Fenwick is a private catholic school built in 1929. The two schools are very close in proximity, with only four blocks between them. Students at Fenwick know students at OPRF and vice versa. Because of this, there is a history of friendly competition and banter. OPRF alumna and current Fenwick High School teacher, Ms. Gallinari stated
that she vaguely remembers a rivalry in swimming and water polo. I asked another Fenwick High School teacher, Ms. Visteen, who is also an OPRF alum, whether she played any sports in high school and if so, did she feel like the two teams played any rougher because they knew they were playing each other, this was her response, “I played water polo all four years. I think both teams were very talented. Water polo is a contact sport and if you aren’t physical, you aren’t playing it right. The game was extremely competitive.”

Basketball was always one of the more competitive sports. I asked a few more recent OPRF and Fenwick alumni about their experience and they said that basketball was one of the more rowdy sports. This may have been because everyone was inside in an enclosed area. An urban legend alleges that in 1989 a fight broke out during a hockey game between the two schools. It was rumored
to be so serious that they canceled the football game that fall as well as all future football games. Football competition had not been brought back until August of 2022.

The Fenwick v. OPRF football game in August was a spectacle. Large mobs of orange and blue, along with white and black poured into the stadium. The event took place at Seat
Geek Stadium, and hundreds of students from both sides came to watch. The student section for both schools reach record sizes, and they stood facing each other from across the
massive field. There was even merchandise sold, and the parking lot of the stadium was full to the brim. Even though there were concerns, no foul play between students took place
at the game. OPRF ultimately ended victorious, but the Friar pride and support was still strong. It is unclear whether a game like this will occur again, but it showed that old rivalries
can still be played civilly.

Overall students seem to look forward to and enjoy some elements of the rivalry between Fenwick and OPRF. Teachers, students, and coaches all agree that this is a fun and exciting
rivalry and proof that the two schools can still get along.