Two schools, one city

High-Schoolers reflect on the half-century old City and West Rivalry.

The Boot sits proudly in the trophy case of West High. It is a symbol of a storied rivalry.

In the 4th Quarter, all eyes were on the Trojan Mike Slotterback ’74, the senior kicker. Iowa City was at the edge of their seats, as they watched the punter kick the field goal, winning the game against City High.

This celebration was commemorated in the West Side Story and was significant to the West High community since it was their first football game win; however, this was almost half a century ago. The city expanded, and so did the school. A tale of two schools in one town had everyone from athletes to mathletes at City and West feeling the competitive spirit. But is the rivalry on the same level today as it was years ago?

The rivalry began with the splitting of students. In 1968, West Senior High was built, causing friends and schoolmates to be separated from City. The West side was just miles of farmland, sitting on piles of dirt and grass, plopped on what kids thought was Williamsburg. The Little Hawks coined the nickname for the school “Cow-Pie high.” The newly formed Trojans ditched their former colors and banners to the new green and gold at Iowa City West. 

Football games are the best-known arena for the two schools to compete, with football games having a higher student turnout than other sports. Knowing this, the two schools formed ‘the battle of the boot.’ The newly formed rivals commemorated each football game by marking the shoe. The two schools decided that the winner will win a boot for bragging rights. The original 1968 shoe ended up being stolen in the middle of the night at City High in 1988. To this day it remains unknown who stole it or how the boot was stolen. Currently, the 2nd Boot sits on the main foyer with a record of 34 wins from City and 16 from West.

Social studies teacher Gary Neuzil grew up in Iowa City, attended City High and has valuable insight on the rivalry.

The school rivalry heated on, when Neuzil was a junior he thought of the idea for ‘Beat West’ tees, so the kids could raise money for their school dance. Later, as a class advisor for West High, he was also the first person to think of the ‘Beat City’ shirts.

“The year [1992] was [when] West went number one in the state and City High was number two, and that was the year that we went to the state championship … it was the first time KCRG broadcast the game live … it was that big of an event.”

Those events were almost decades ago. Since then, the student population of each school grew and with the expansion, Neuzil thinks that some of the kids have shifted their time and energy to focus on other interests, rather than a stone-cold beef. 

“Well it used to be if you went to West High, you wouldn’t talk to anybody at City High,” Neuzil said.

The senior class is divided upon the rivalry between City and West.

Nikul Patel ‘20 thinks that City is the main opponent with the addition of Liberty High in recent years.

“The trophies speak for themselves, the math program is unstoppable. West High is known for their mathletes, and they have been unstoppable since,” Patel said. 

For Mussab Musa ‘20, a West student who grew up on the East Side, the competition is not at the forefront of his mind.

“I don’t really see a rivalry, but more friends,” Musa said. 

However for varsity soccer player Micah Frisbie ’20 the rivalry continues to live on.

“The City and West soccer [games] are the most popular with the students in the regular season,” Frisbie added.

As the years pass, Iowa City has grown larger; yet the intensity of the rivalry has somewhat lessened. The current competition is an opportunity for West kids to come together and show their pride in different sports and activities, bringing school spirit in the rivalry between the two schools in one city.