Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Cooperative teams in Colorado Springs area add twist to high school rivalries

By Scott Kaniewski Published: July 28, 2013 0

Lewis-Palmer's boys' basketball team had just finished beating Palmer Ridge, its biggest rival, in front of a packed gymnasium on the L-P campus.

Before anyone could leave, one student grabbed the gym microphone and made an announcement: Two buses were parked behind the gym, ready to cart any students from Palmer Ridge or Lewis-Palmer up to Denver to watch the L-P District 38 hockey team in the state semifinals.

Students who'd just finished cheering against one another headed out back to ride side by side to root on players from both schools in the district's co-op hockey team.

Somewhere hidden among the rivalries spread throughout the Pikes Peak region, a number of students have to cross those imaginary boundaries that define what school they cheer for to - gasp! - stand shoulder to shoulder with the ones they're usually cheering against.

A number of teams throughout Colorado Springs (and around the state) are cooperative teams. Essentially, players from rival teams unite as one squad.

"Sometimes we give each other a hard time about each other's school," L-P hockey player Julian Claudio said. "But at the end of the day, everyone enjoys playing together and enjoys seeing kids from different schools across town."

While coaching the L-P hockey team, then-coach Steve Fillo never saw the rivalry bother his players.

"The Palmer Ridge kids could give a hoot," Fillo said. "They would wear their game jerseys with a tie on game day around Palmer Ridge."

The program originally went out of its way to not specify a team mascot, but opted to use only an L-P logo, because the team name on flyers and programs was the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 hockey team.

Harrison's athletes in girls' swimming and boys' golf have to play under the name of heated rival Sierra.

"We don't have the kids," Harrison athletic director Dave Hogan said. "The kids really haven't said much about it. They wish we had the numbers to have our own teams, but with golf and swimming, it's not quite the same as football, basketball, baseball or volleyball. You look around and it's the same all over town."

While co-op teams unite, there's definitely good-natured needling among the players.

Mesa Ridge's Jamie Quirk joined a co-op girls' swim team - known as Widefield District 3 - her sophomore season as a diver. She moved to the swimming side last season. She played soccer and tennis for Mesa Ridge, facing off last season on the tennis court against one of her Widefield swim teammates.

"I did think it would be more of a rivalry, but we all joined each other pretty well," Quirk said. "We still make the occasional comment about Widefield-Mesa. But it turned out to be better than I thought it was going to."

Claudio, who will be the student body president at Lewis-Palmer, said there's a complete sense of team unity for the skaters, whether they be from L-P, Palmer Ridge or Falcon, an out-of-district school that had several players on the team.

But that doesn't mean they don't kid each other.

"I know I wouldn't enjoy wearing Palmer Ridge colors for game day," Claudio joked. "I think they deal with it. I think everyone accepts it's a district team."

Quirk couldn't help getting in a jab at the rivalry.

"It's a bad thing being called Widefield District 3," she said, tongue in cheek. "We say we should be called Mesa."

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