|Young rivals get competitive in ancient game
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
By JOSH PONTRELLI
The newest chapter in the Easton-Phillipsburg rivalry was written this week, but this time it didn't involve screaming fans or cheerleaders.
Not yet, at least.
Twenty students from each school participated Monday night in the rivals' first quoits tournament.
"In Phillipsburg, this is the thing to do," said 18-year old senior Stephen Nicolosi. "But it's intense, especially with the rivalry."
Quoits (pronounced "kwaits") is an ancient throwing game in which heavy metal rings are pitched at short metal stakes driven into the ground. Quoits are recognized as the predecessor to the more commonly known game of horseshoe pitching.
George Chilmonik, a Phillipsburg math teacher, founded the high school's quoits club three years ago. Since then, the club has grown into more than a hobby for its members. He said the club meets roughly once a week, although it offers students a chance to play in the courtyard almost every day after school.
Months ago, Chilmonik called the principal of Easton Area High School. The principal alerted Student Council President Luke Carlson, who set up the tournament with Chilmonik.
"This is the greatest high school rivalry, and we're taking it to the next level," Chilmonik said. "Whoever comes out the winner will be the United States High School Quoits Champion until further notice," he said.
He believes this is the only high school quoits club in the nation, and he issued an open challenge to any high school wishing to contend.
"We know of no others," he said. "I have never seen anything about another team, so we'll claim it."
For now, Easton has claimed the quoits crown.
The students played in a four-round pool tournament. Easton will be awarded a trophy once it is purchased, as will each year's winner.
"We hope to promote good sportsmanship and goodwill between the two high schools," Chilmonik said. "It's going to be a good experience for everyone involved. One hundred years from now, they'll be talking about this."
Quoits Club President Becky Kessler said the tournament was a great way to end her senior year.
"It's a great way to bring Easton and P'burg together," she said. "It's definitely laid back and there is not as big a crowd, but the intensity is still there."
Kessler, one of six girls who played, said quoits isn't just for guys.
"Guys don't want to lose to girls," she said. "But when the girls get playing the guys get intimidated and distracted."
Carlson, a senior, said his school doesn't have a club yet, but after this event students may want to form one.
"We may not have a club, but we commit a lot of hours pitching during the spring and summer," he said. "This is something cool to celebrate the rivalry."
Both students and Chilmonik would like to make the quoits tournament a yearly occurrence.
"We hope it will become an annual event," he said. "Maybe we can do it as a fund-raiser eventually and get more people involved to raise money for charity."
Nicolosi said Chilmonik would do anything to support students playing the game.
"He puts quoits in his lessons," Nicolosi said. "He lives for playing quoits."
Despite the Phillipsburg club losing the inaugural battle, Chilmonik said he was thrilled to see the event take place.
"It doesn't get any better than this," he said.