Siblings split by college rivalry

The rivalry between us and Amherst College is legendary. Every Purple Cow loves to hate the scheming, thieving, (undemocratic!) Lord Jeffs. What would a Williams student do if his or her family supported Amherst? Even worse … what if a sibling attended Amherst?

A surprising number of students at the College share this affliction. Though seemingly impossible, it appears that children raised in the same environment who are interested in small liberal arts schools nestled in the mountains of Massachusetts often split up between the College and Amherst.

For Cecilia Castellano ’16, her decision between the two schools was literally a coin toss. “My [twin] sister and I applied to almost every school the same except for the little ones that we split up on, like here and Amherst, Swarthmore and Haverford. We split up on those because we literally flipped a coin to decide. My mom was like, ‘You can’t go together.’”

Although the Castellano twins each applied to 16 schools, fate somehow eventually brought Cecilia to Williams and her twin sister Claire to Amherst College. The twins have an incredibly close relationship (“We usually keep a minimum of four lines of communication open: Snapchat, Facebook inbox, phone, text”) and don’t let the rivalry get between them.

“We take [the rivalry] as a joke,” Castellano reported. “The schools are more similar than they are different.”

Castellano delivered this shocking news with evidence suggesting up to three twin visits between the two campuses a semester. Apparently, Amherst is extremely similar to the College with the sole big exception of the “Socials” – a concentration of all the campus’s social dorms in one area whereas the College’s social life is more dispersed.

Brian Pedersen ’18, whose father went to Amherst, has been reacting poorly to the news that his twin sister will attend Amherst next year.

“Well, at first, [it didn’t affect our relationships] that much. Then it started to kind of sink in, and we don’t really talk a lot anymore. I used to live in the room next to my sister but I switched my room after I found that out. We don’t eat meals together. I barely see [my sister or my dad] anymore,” said Pedersen.

Adding to Pedersen’s aversion to Amherst is his membership on the College’s football team as well the fact that, in another time, his father played football for Amherst.

Now Pedersen plays against his father’s alma mater in front of his family. He said, “It definitely adds extra motivation – more fuel to the fire. First time I laid eyes upon the Lord Jeffs, I knew I didn’t like ’em, but that dislike has turned into a burning hatred.”

The Williams-Amherst game may be the only time Pedersen’s family will see him next year. He does not plan on visiting his twin sister Katie at Amherst nor will he allow her to visit him. When asked how his father feels about Pedersen attending Williams, he shrugged: “I wouldn’t know because we don’t talk anymore.”

Perhaps there is a balance between these two responses to the famous rivalry. Paul Friedrich ’16 acknowledges the differences between the competitive schools but remains mostly peaceful towards Amherst. Friedrich’s older brother attends Amherst, which is also the alma mater of his father.

“I’ve always embraced the role of the competitive little brother, so our attending rival colleges has simply affirmed that aspect of our relationship. Mostly, though, it is truly wonderful when I am homesick or in need of comfort to have someone I love just an hour down the road. Attending different colleges, but still being in somewhat close proximity to my brother, has been a really special experience, allowing me to balance forging my own path with maintaining a close connection with him,” explained Friedrich.

One question remains: When siblings are split between the two littlest schools with the biggest rivalry, whose side does the rest of the family take? Maybe Pedersen wouldn’t know, but Castellano and Friedrich reported that their families are neutral

Friedrich elaborated, “Our family isn’t too invested in the rivalry between the two schools. My brother and I will tease each other about it, but at the end of the day, we each think the other’s school is a pretty awesome place.”