Tuesday, October 7, 2008

REPORTER BLOG: Heart of the Game--Hometown Rivalries

Sara Shookman

Getting ready for the big game is quite a task for most teams. Practice, pep talks and spirited rallies all help players build their confidence. But there is one game where getting ready goes beyond all that – a hometown rivalry.

Preparing for a rival game starts before tryouts. It’s the effort of a community. That’s what I saw when I covered the volleyball game where Nelsonville-York beat Trimble.

It All Begins
High school rivalries aren’t born overnight. Rivalries can develop in different ways. In this case, Nelsonville-York and Trimble are county seats, separated by just a hill.

Nelsonville-York Coach Courtney Porter talks about the rivalry.

The weight of game inspires the players and riles up the fans. On Monday, the Buckeyes’ student cheering zone never took their seats, while Tomcat fans maintained a steady beat, “Let’s go ‘Cats!” I love to see the crowd get into a game. Win or lose, it’s a great opportunity to see school pride.

Throughout the game, my eyes kept landing on the “Buckeye Pride” signs lining the walls. All that hometown spirit was spreading to the court where neither team was quick to give up.

Coach Versus Players
The Trimble Tomcats had a slow start to this season, but still have a chance to win their league title. Nelsonville-York has been stuck in a tough slump. Both teams have already been placed in their tournament seats, ready to go in post-season play.

Although the Trimble Nelsonville-York matchup is not a league game, it was one very important to the players.

Buckeye Coach Courtney Porter must not be a N-Y native, because she says she just doesn’t get it. “This is practice for me, for tournaments,” Porter said. Porter said the matchup was in no way a must-win game.

Meanwhile for Trimble Coach Chris Downs, the game was simply an opportunity to turn up the heat.

Trimble Coach Chris Downs says he's thinking about the future.

Downs says although his girls lost, he thinks it will help inspire them to keep their heads up as tournaments begin.

What It Takes To Win
I was never a great athlete. But after many years of sitting the bench, I did learn one thing. It's all about wanting it.

Determination is hard to hold on to, especially when a rocky season is coming to a close. But what I saw in the Buckeyes yesterday was a desire to win.

When I asked senior Chelsie McLaughlin how the team pulled together, "It's all we really wanted," she said. No pep talk can build confidence like that.

The Bucks score the winning point.

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