A revered South Side High School tradition continues, as students excitedly await the 107th annual Red and Blue competition.
In the three-day extravaganza, Thursday through Saturday, the two squads will showcase their talent, teamwork and sportsmanship in an effort to have a team victory added to the record books.
The high school is bringing back two alumni to help coordinate the event. This year, Jenna Carey and Lisa Guerriero — both former South Side team captains — were chosen as co-directors of the competition.
“Jenna and I didn’t know each other prior to us accepting this position, and we’ve become best friends,” Guerriero said. “As the directors, we’re the only two that actually know everything that’s going on. Neither of us works in the district. That’s how much we love and care about this program.”
Carey, a Red team captain who graduated in 2006, is a freelance TV producer who recently worked on the ESPN docuseries “The Captain,” about Derek Jeter and the Yankees.
“Lisa and I have been working tirelessly, going through all the guidelines since the beginning of December,” Carey said.
Guerriero, who graduated in 2000, is a phys. ed. teacher at East Meadow High School. She, too, was a Red team captain.
“One of the beautiful parts about Red and Blue is that as freshmen going into high school, you’re meeting so many more people,” Guerriero said. “The seniors on both teams are great. They provide car rides and guidance to the younger bodies.”
Carey said that being back at South Side for the 107th Red and Blue brought back memories of when she was a captain. “Sometimes I think maybe I blew it up in my head for all these years, but it’s just as amazing as I remember it being,” she said. “I never thought I’d get to relive it as an adult, but it’s been awesome working with both teams.”
Each team has two alumni advisers who coordinate practice times. Neither team is allowed to view the opponent’s strategies before the competition.
Lauren Serling (class of 2007) and Joanna Zweben (1990) have been making sure Red team members have their routines ready. For the Blue team, Christina Ferrara-Muter and Margaret Kelly, both 2003 graduates, have been doing the same.
When the event began in 1917, it was known simply as Girls Sports Night, but over the years the tradition has evolved with the times. Today it’s a multi-faceted competition that challenges students — mostly girls, but some boys — in a series of competitive events, all in the name of fun.
Beginning in 2010, the competition expanded to include fundraising efforts for charitable organizations. This year the girls will raise money for The Jillian E. Daly Foundation, which focuses on funding autoimmune disease research and helping students entering health-related professions.
The foundation is named after a former Red team captain and 2004 South Side graduate who died in 2010 of warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia. Jillian Daly also had bouts of idiopathic thrombocytopenia, a blood platelet disorder, when she was a high school junior. To help raise money, cash donations will be collected on all three nights of the competition to help the nonprofit foundation.
For the past three and half weeks, nearly 300 South Side girls have devoted hours each day practicing their routines in preparation for the event. The competition will begin on Thursday night, with performances of friendship and marching songs by the two teams, after which they will present painted posters of their team’s emblem or theme, and the themes for each of the upcoming dance competitions, which will later be displayed around the gym.
On Friday and Saturday nights, each team will perform a skit featuring five dance routines, ranging from aerobic to disco to tap to jazz. Each group will be judged by a different panel each night, which will rank them based on their performance, costumes, props, and tumbling.
There will be three relay races and a floor hockey match on Friday night, and three more relays and a volleyball match on Saturday. Points will also be awarded for organization, sportsmanship, and attendance.
Over the past 106 years of the competition, the Blue team has accumulated the most team victories, with 50, while the Red team has captured 43. There have been 11 ties, and two years with no record.
Additional reporting by Kepherd Daniel