DeKALB – For the students of DeKalb and Sycamore high schools, Friday was one of the biggest nights of the year.
Fans of the Spartans and Barbs packed the Northern Illinois University Convocation Center to see their respective boys and girls basketball teams take each other on.
“It’s the biggest game of the year,” said DeKalb senior Teague Walker. Like other students in the DeKalb section, Walker was completely decked out in white. She said it was to show solidarity with the DeKalb team, who was wearing white that game.
For some of the Sycamore fans, the theme was chaos. Sycamore seniors Mark Barron and Colin Eggleson said they tried to get as many students as possible to wear the craziest thing they had in their possession.
“We don’t want no dull outfits,” Eggleson said. “We’re not DeKalb ... We live for this night.”
Eggleson wore a black shirt with blackand-yellow striped overalls. Barron wore a cow costume, complete with udders and a mask. Barron said it was the craziest thing he had in his closet. Not to be outdone, Eggleson added that he also had a gorilla costume with him.
“When the moment’s right,” he said.
Kim Keck attended Friday’s game with her husband and four children. When she first moved to the area from the Quad Cities, she “didn’t realize how big it actually was.”
“It’s a fun way to get the community involved,” Keck said of the rivalry. “I can’t wait to see the fans tonight.”
Before he graduated from DHS, Nick Glogovsky said he used to be really into dressing up and show his DHS pride at the DeKalb-Sycamore games. Now, attending Kishwaukee College, both he and Brandon Clark showed up to Friday’s game in regular clothes.
“It seemed a lot more important back then,” Glogovsky said.
Friday night’s game also marked the end of the 2012-2013 Castle Challenge, a fundraiser that divides the money between DeKalb and Sycamore booster clubs. This year, they are expecting to raise $65,000, said Gary Evans, the co-chair of the DeKalb/Sycamore Castle Challenge.
“Whatever the athletic director needs the money for, the money is usually spent on,” Evans said. The money benefits the athletic programs both cities’ middle schools and high schools.
The Castle Challenge is a prominent feature at the DeKalb/Sycamore football and basketball games. In the fall, the fundraiser had 98 sponsors; now it had increased to 105, Evans said. The highest number of sponsors the fundraiser had was 150 in 2008.
Because of the rivalry and the Castle Challenge, Friday’s night game featured more of everything. Fans could get tickets to a 50-50 raffle that was expected to have a payout between $500 and $1,500, or get pictures with the different mascots and costumed individuals wandering about.
This included the husband and wife team of Mike and Karen Colweck, who wore 60 pounds of Spartan weapons and armor to Friday night’s game. Through their company Strength & Honor, based in Elburn, the Colwecks travel to different schools and events and educate people on what ancient warriors wore to battle.
“We’re a museum that’s ready to come to you,” Mike “Astinos” Colweck said, adding that all of the gear is “battle ready.”
Elementary schools also got in on the action. Lining some of the hallways were posters made by each of the schools, rooting for their respective high schools.