Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Tense games can lead to intense rivalries in the Pikes Peak region

By Scott Kaniewski Updated: August 22, 2013 at 9:50 am 0

The first year The Classical Academy girls' soccer team went varsity, then-coach Mike Fox scheduled St. Mary's.

The move created one of the bigger nontraditional rivalries in Colorado Springs.

Most rivalries are born out of proximity. But every once in a while a rivalry springs up between teams not so closely situated.

That happened when a St. Mary's senior accidentally steamrolled the Titans goalie. The goalie was forced to come out of the game because of injury. St. Mary's cruised to a comfortable win against the fledgling program.

A season later, St. Mary's coach Gregg Braha said his team expected to win again with ease. Not so fast.

"Mike Fox had his team sky high," Braha said. "He had his girls ready to play. They beat us. So it was like, here we go, and it's been like that, back and forth, every year."

A similar incident sprung the Air Academy-Cheyenne Mountain hockey rivalry. While the teams are in the same conferences, they aren't in the same part of the city.

Wayne Marshall, who has been at Air Academy for 40 years, took over the Kadets hockey program in 1970. A couple of years later they earned their first win over the Indians.

"Cheyenne Mountain was virtually always the best," Marshall said. "And when you're second or third or whatever, and you know you're coming up against the No. 1 team, you are just going to prepare yourself a little harder on your own."

TCA and St. Mary's aren't in the same conference, but the tradition continues.

Emily Loof of St. Mary's, who will be a senior this fall, saw her older sister go through it first.

"It's just a historic rivalry," she said. "It's exciting. It's nerve-racking, especially for the younger ones - they look like they're going to hurl.

"They (TCA) are such good opponents, you want to make your community proud."

Occasionally, the rivalries boil over, as they did in the 1999 state hockey championship, when Air Academy and Cheyenne Mountain ended the game in a bench-clearing brawl. More often, the rivalries build mutual respect from the opponents.

Katie Stephens, a Titans captain when Fox was with TCA, got the team to put together a good-luck basket for the Pirates who were in the state title game.

"We wanted to wish them the best as they were approaching the state finals," Fox said. "It can be a friendly rivalry. That was the lesson Gregg and I took from it."

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