Tied Together: Maryland-Hopkins Family Connections
April 15, 2004
By Adam Zundell
So, where were you in 1895?
Maybe you were in London at the St. James Theater to see the first showing of Oscar Wilde's play "The Importance of Being Earnest." Or, maybe you were in the rolling hills of Latrobe, Pa., witnessing the first professional football game. Were you around when George B. Sheldon was granted the first U.S. patent for the automobile? Did you get to see Babe Ruth be born?
Or maybe, just maybe, you were one of the lucky ones and got to see Johns Hopkins and Maryland play lacrosse for the very first time.
Reincarnation aside, we can only imagine what that first game was like. Hopkins wiped out the Terps in that meeting, 10-0, probably igniting the anger and frustration of several Terrapins for getting blanked by a local team. Take that emotion, multiply it by 100, and you'll still only have a sliver of the intensity this game has now.
We all know what makes a good rivalry: competitive teams, a long history, dramatic games. That's Ohio State and Michigan in football. Take that, and throw in the proximity of the two teams, and you have a great rivalry, like Duke and North Carolina.
Those are pickup games at the YMCA compared to Hopkins-Maryland. The two teams are at the top of the polls, first played since 1895, are separated by less than 40 miles in distance but are seemingly year-in and year-out separated by just one goal. The passionate fans of both teams would rather drink a gallon of paint before seeing the other team victorious. And these games just aren't just to see who has the biggest stack of chips, the Blue Jays and Terps have played a host of games (12, to be exact) in which having the tall stack meant moving on the NCAA tournament or even taking the national title. The other 87 were pretty intense, too.
That's all well and good, but it's really not what separates this rivalry and this game from all the rest. When two top teams are located so close with an abundance of local talent in the state that makes the rest of the nation jealous, the two schools that view themselves so differently overlap and are tied together like blue and red shoelaces. That overlap that has taken place over the last 109 years is on display on Saturday as brothers, former high school teammates and fathers and sons mix Hopkins blue and Maryland red into a rich purple that conjures more emotions than just the thrill of winning and the satisfaction of seeing the other team lose.
Just another game? Save that cliché for another time.
"Maybe I'll wear pink - I think that color is in this year."
Most people would see having a kid play for Hopkins and Maryland during the same time would be a source of stress and anxiety with the hours consumed by filling out a pro/con list that will help decide which son will get their support. For the Schwartzman's, it's more a source of pride and excitement to see Andrew play for Maryland and Jesse play for Hopkins at the same time on one of the biggest stages in collegiate lacrosse.
"The three questions we always get are: Who are you going to root for? What are you going to wear? Where are you going to sit?" Robert Schwartzman says.
And the answers: "We want both kids to play well, we want both teams to play well and may the best team win. We'll probably wear neutral colors but we'll wear both buttons for our kids. We're not sure where we're going to sit, though."
Robert's wife, Debbie, agrees that trying to figure out where to sit is actually a good problem.
"I think any parent would be thrilled to have this dilemma: kids playing on top-ranked teams in Division I lacrosse, playing in the 100th game of the series - we can only come out as a winner," she adds.
Andrew and Jesse grew up in a household that followed the Terps in all sports, including lacrosse. The family consistently attended Terp lacrosse games, especially the Hopkins-Maryland game. Jesse, who was highly sought after, ultimately determined to walk a different path and decided that that Hopkins was the best setting for him. They admit that initially, they saw each other as the enemy.
Knowing what he has seen growing up and experienced during his first two seasons, Andrew, a junior attacker, knows that this game is different from the rest, no matter what else you hear to the contrary.
"We have to try as hard as we can to make it seem like it's just another game, but everyone knows that there is another feeling that you have the whole week of Hopkins because you know what is at stake," he says. "Once you're on the field, it is just like any other game. The good thing is getting into the game because then it's time to calm down and play."
Jesse, a freshman goalie for the Blue Jays, hasn't experienced all the hype and buzz as a player, and he likely won't get any tips from his brother. The pair talks a few times a week, but those conversations rarely include lacrosse. It could be a tense situation, but the parents see nothing but positives coming from this situation.
"Steven Spielberg couldn't write a better script," Dad says. "It's Maryland-Hopkins, No.1 against No. 2, the 100th meeting... and we're excited and proud of our kids."
"I have to admit, my stomach did turn a little bit."
Imagine being a star lacrosse player and having a little brother that idolized you and would ask you for your autograph after games. Despite being quite different in styles of play, he still wanted to play like you and be like you. Then that little brother has the chance to follow in your footsteps, and then gives you a rope-a-dope and instead selects your biggest rival.
Meet Matt Hahn.
Hahn had a tremendous career at Maryland, leading the team to three NCAA championship games. His brother, Jake Byrne, spent a lot of Matt's career on the sidelines at Byrd Stadium as a ballboy and being amazed at the impact Matt had on the Terps. When it came Jake's turn to select a college, though, the awe of playing for Maryland had worn off and the allure of playing for Hopkins was stronger and he became the first player in 20 years to become a Blue Jay after attending The Landon School.
"Coming from Landon, a lot of coaches were around because of all the older guys who had been around," the freshman attacker admits. "It was the toughest decision I've had to make. Maryland had been No. 1 with me since I was 10, and I wanted to follow Matt's footsteps, so it was a really tough decision for me. The coaching staff at Hopkins and the player atmosphere - we all get along so well and everyone's so close - it was just tough to pass up."
"It didn't surprise me, I knew he was looking there and that was one of his choices," Matt says. "I mean obviously, my stomach did turn a little bit when I heard that since they are the biggest rival that Maryland has. He's not me and he can go wherever he wants and he's happy there."
Jake has a good sense of exactly how both sides feel about each other and how divisive this rivalry can be.
"When Matt was there he hated the Hopkins guys, and I've heard every Hopkins joke there is," he says. "I think it's just that it's such an important game for a lot of people and the players realize that. I know Matt did.
"I think he'll want me to play well, but I think he hopes that Maryland crushes Hopkins."
While Jake has an idea of what it's going to be like, Matt knows the experience is like riding a roller coaster: you can try to explain it, but you don't really know what it's like until you're speeding at 80 miles an hour upside down in a loop.
"It's going to be something he hasn't experienced yet in lacrosse," he says. "I know he's played in front of some pretty big crowds and in big games, but it's not going to be the same kind of atmosphere that he's going to find on that night. I can always remember the crowds at Homewood Field. They always set up the big stands behind the goals and the fans were six or seven yards off the end lines and I can always remember hearing them screaming things about players on our team. I loved the fact that people were having so much fun at a lacrosse game. It's a great atmosphere.
"And Jake is right, it's not an easy thing to root for Hopkins and I can't do it when they are playing Maryland, so I am going to pull for Maryland to win, but I do hope that my brother plays well and has a good game."
"I don't bleed blue yet."
Kevin Boland Sr. played for the Terps during their golden years in lacrosse, including being on the team that brought home the school's first national championship in 1973. The guys that made up that team wore mops for hair, played a high powered, wide-open style of lacrosse. They were good, they knew it, and they proved it.
"Everyone wanted to knock us off," he says. "We were loose canons and had a good time playing, and some people took that as not caring or not practicing hard - which wasn't the case. I remember getting off the bus at Hopkins and being inundated with fans and people who didn't like us. It was definitely intimidating."
The elder Boland enjoys recalling those glory days with Maryland, but now his allegiance has switched in the bitter rivalry since his son is a standout midfielder for the Blue Jays. He is surprised when people ask him about that allegiance.
"I'm sitting on the side of my son, that's where my loyalty is," he says. "It's pretty neat to be on the other side of the fence in this game. I'm still a Maryland fan in other sports - I don't bleed blue yet. When he's done playing, though, that will be tough because I'll be tied to both teams."
Kevin Jr. grew up a Maryland fan and going to all Terp sporting events, but when it came time to choose to go to school, Johns Hopkins was aggressive in recruiting him while Maryland was not as enthusiastic. That made what could have been a difficult choice pretty easy.
"I always figured in the back of my mind that someday I was probably going to Maryland and that I would love to go there," he says. "It's kind of interesting how the recruiting process works and you never know what another team's agenda is. It just so happened that Maryland didn't show as much interest in me and Hopkins really wanted me."
That slight, though, doesn't seem to serve as extra motivation for Kevin Jr. in a game that already has plenty.
"I treat every game the same," he says. "I found a home at Hopkins and I couldn't be happier things worked out the way they did. There's a bigger picture: we want to beat the other team. It's not about me or my dad, it's about Hopkins-Maryland."
It is more than just about them, but it certainly wouldn't be as fun.
"We'd like to think it's another game on our schedule and we're going to treat it that way, but everyone knows in the back of their mind that it's Hopkins and Maryland and there's no way you can't get up for that game," Kevin Jr. says.
With the connections that are abundant and that will continue to be abundant as the teams play another 100 times, the rivalry will continue to prove to separate itself from any other competition in the nation. Keep that calendar free - you won't want to miss the next 100.