Chances are, when spring rolls around, you will see one of the Castleton baseball players tweet or Instagram a photo of the past season’s championship with the hashtag “#HuckFusson,” or you will see someone walking around campus wearing a shirt with that same slogan proudly printed across the front in Castleton Green.
Castleton’s conference opponent from Bangor, Maine has become the main rival for sports teams. Many say it’s because the two schools are the top performers athletically in the conference every year.
“Whenever Castleton plays Husson, it’s viewed as a big game, in any sport,” said Jeff Weld, director of Marketing and Communications and former Spartan basketball player.
In the last five years, Castleton has faced Husson in seven conference championships for seven different sports.
Baseball has always drawn a lot of public attention to the rivalry, with the two schools having handed the NAC title back and forth since 2008.
“Most of the time, it comes down to us two in the championship,” said head baseball coach Ted Shipley. “The team gets really involved in who we play, and they always put a special emphasis on Husson. I can tell their feelings are more into that rivalry.”
On the softball diamond, especially after last year’s heartbreaking seventh inning loss to Husson in the playoffs, the rivalry is still very clear, and the hurt very fresh.
“They broke our kids’ hearts last year,” head coach Eric Ramey said. “To say its left a sour taste in our mouth is a very safe statement to make. I’d be lying if I said our girls aren’t looking forward to playing them this season. There is an aura about Husson that I think every team feels, particularly since they have won six straight titles.”
The Husson Eagles have built a very successful athletic program and Castleton Athletic Director Deanna Tyson feels the programs essentially grew up together.
“Their program had a similar foundation to ours, and we both grew off of each other as organizations as the years progressed,” she said. “Even though they are so far away, we have formed a very intense rivalry with them among most of our sports.”
The football programs of the two schools have also both been at the top in their conference recently.
Husson football player Jeremiah Jones said Husson always gets up for Castleton games.
“This year when we played Castleton, there was more pressure on us to win. I think that is simply because we are both top competitors in the conference,” he said.
Spartan player Trevor Sayers said Castleton players get fired up to play Husson too.
“Both of our programs do an excellent job recruiting athletes from all around New England, and the high level of talent that is on the field when we play Husson brings out a lot of emotions that has turned into a very strong rivalry,” Sayers said.
Castleton defensive coordinator Blaise Zambrano echoed Sayers’ comments.
“They bring a physicality to the game that we don’t see on a weekly basis. It’s becoming a better rivalry every year,” he said.
In addition to the on-field performance rivalry, there is a very strong fan support network from each school when the opposition comes to town.
“When we travel to Husson, their students show up and have a large presence to support their school, and the same goes for Castleton students when Husson comes here.” said Ben Stockwell, director of Athletic Communications.
No matter the season, when Husson and Castleton step on the same field or court, the level of play and the raw desire to win is at a higher level than with anyone else.
Husson head field hockey coach and NAC Coach of the Year Madeline Hoeppner feels the rivalry and the intense competition is very evident.
“There is a very raw need to win the game when we play Castleton. They are seen as a very athletic school so it is always nice to pull off a win against them,” she said.