The Burning Of The Shoe

The burning of the shoe.

Legend has it, Ossie Solem, the head football coach at Springfield College in 1946, gathered his players after the final practice of the season and lit a football cleat on fire. He believed it would erase any ill will among teammates so they could play the last game clear of mind and without any regrets.

Through the years, the stories and motivation for ‘the burning shoe’ has changed for high school and college teams around the country. The day before their Thanksgiving game, the seniors at Greenwich High School gather in a circle for their ritual which symbolizes the transition of the seniors out of the football program. They burn a pair of shoes or cleats,  ensuring they can never be filled again. The Cardinals play arch-rival Staples High School on Thursday morning.

Paul Devlin