Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both. And be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could, to where it bent into the undergrowth.
When Robert Frost penned those magical words in 1920, never could he have imagined defining the diverge of a city; two football programs staring down a road never traveled, searching for a future with no acknowledgment of its path.
This is the plight of the Blue Devils and Patriots, the public high school football teams in White House, Tenn., now stationed in the same district for all sports in TSSAA athletics. For the first time (excluding boys and girls soccer which have already played), all sports will compete for standings and championships. It’s a massive shift for a town once united in a single high school.
Then I took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim, because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same.
The better claim certainly lived in Sumner County, a program with a state championship in 1997, and postseason success every single year without exception in the past two-plus decades. White House High School has a coach of 27 years, possesses the traditional blue and white colors found throughout the city, and indeed laying claim to the path desiring wear. This was football in White House.
The opening of Robertson County’s White House Heritage High School sent students from opposite county lines, opposite directions. Not yet a path, the Patriots built from scratch and literally, cleared a lot of brush to reveal the horizon. Now, a postseason tradition is emerging with a coach as classy as his counterpart and suddenly echoing a decade of his program’s own success.
And both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.
Families chose sides. Businesses divided financial support. Parents for the first time made crucial real estate decisions on the choice of a particular school. And a pervasive sense, not forced but rather subtle, wove its way into the psyche of a town.
One must choose.
For a mass, it was a choice to allow both an equal lay. Stuck in separate classes, an upstart program balanced its growth against the perennial force, but never a competitor. Sharing a stadium, cooperation and agreement lit the way. There was no going back, but no official reason to yet move forward.
I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
The building and expansion of a new school, new athletic facilities and growing residential base in Robertson County brought in the inevitable. The TSSAA ruled to place both White House High School and White House Heritage High School in District 9-AA.
The first official varsity football meeting will be Thursday, October 3. Instead of dividing the night and the city, both fan bases will move to a classic neutral-site battle at Vanderbilt Stadium for the first year. By 2016, the game will be hosted at the newly-constructed facilities of White House Heritage.
And thus the choice, a city looking through the forest wondering which path leads to the future.
May I offer a suggestion? Perhaps Robert Frost had it right, and never knew it.
He said he took the road less traveled.
Perhaps it is possible that the road not taken, is the one that keeps us together. Don’t choose a side, choose a city.
Go Blue Devils, Go Patriots, we will always be White House. The rest is just a game.
And that, will make all the difference.
Poem “The Road Not Taken” (or “The Road Less Traveled”) by Robert Frost. Copyright, 1920. Poem used for reference purposes only and is not the property of White House High School or the article’s author.