Cheerleaders Six Decades Later: Once Rivals, Now Best of Friends

As the 1940s came to a close, Janet Burrell was chosen Head Cheerleader for Harrison High. Across the field on the Rye side, Ann Murtagh was leading cheers for the Rye Garnets. Sixty years later, Janet Burrell Joyce and Ann Murtagh Rogers are the best of friends. Who’d have thought it?

Published October 11, 2011 3:47 PM
3 min read

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s-40thumbAs the 1940s came to a close, Janet Burrell was chosen Head Cheerleader for Harrison High. Across the field on the Rye side, Ann Murtagh was leading cheers for the Rye Garnets. Sixty years later, Janet Burrell Joyce and Ann Murtagh Rogers are the best of friends. Who’d have thought it?

 

By Mitch Silver

 

s-40As the 1940s came to a close, Janet Burrell was chosen Head Cheerleader for Harrison High. Across the field on the Rye side, Ann Murtagh was leading cheers for the Rye Garnets. Sixty years later, Janet Burrell Joyce and Ann Murtagh Rogers are the best of friends. Who’d have thought it?

 

After all, it was Janet who led her penny-loafered cheerleaders the night before the big game in toasting a loaf of bread and then putting a crust in 70 paper bags, one for each Harrison football player, with the words “Rye is toast!” printed on the outside.

 

And it was Ann, in her saddle shoes, who joined the band and the other cheerleaders and majorettes in forming up at the Rye train station and then snake-dancing with the team up Purchase Street and Milton Road all the way to the high school.

 

Ironically, it was Ann’s cousin Bill, a huge man with a huge police motorcycle, who would lead the Harrison team bus into Rye, telling everyone within sound of his booming voice to “Make Way! Here come the Huskies!”

 

On the other hand, it was Janet’s son who would move to Rye; it was Janet’s grandsons, Bobby and Colin who would — heaven forfend! — actually play for Rye.

 

s-41“What can I say?” Janet told us recently at Ann’s home on Meadow Place, where the strawberry blonde Ms. Rogers grew up and has lived all her life.  And then the even-blonder Ms. Joyce held up her stadium cushion. On one side it reads, “Go Harrison!” Flip it over and it reads, “Go Rye!”

 

Ann added, “The rivalry’s not just about the geographical closeness, though that’s a part of it. I mean, the rear of our backyard is technically in Harrison. Kids from Harrison went to Rye schools; they hung out at the Five Points and the Rye Town Canteen. Families intermarried.”

 

Janet agreed. “Back then the drinking age was 18. We’d all go to Gus’ or Rizzoli’s after the game, but, if we won or tied (which we did, 12-12, my senior year), the best places to party were all in Rye.”

“Well, we won my senior year,” Ann countered. “And, as far as partying goes, I have to agree.”

 

After all is said and done, friends Ann Rogers and Janet Joyce echo the words on Janet’s stadium cushion: “In the game, it’s sportsmanship that counts.”

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