Rivalries: To embrace or shut down emotions
September 13, 2017
How do you handle the rivalry?
I've had coaches from both Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley approach it differently. I get a coach saying that his/her game against the Huskies/Devils "is just another game." Taking the emotion and the hoopla out of it is critical. It's axiomatic that the team that makes the fewest mistakes in a rivalry game will win.
But, with most teams in most sports, taking the emotion out of a rivalry game just isn't realistic. These are high school kids, not pros. These are 15-, 16-, 17-year-olds, who some days are focused on the task at hand and, other days, really more concerned with whom they are going to attend prom.
That's not a criticism. It's the reality of high school sports. That factor makes coaches age exponentially during a season and makes attending a high school game entertaining for fans and sports writers alike.
And when it comes to playing Battle Mountain/Eagle Valley in anything, an athlete goes into overdrive emotionally and physically. The game is mathematically just one or two in a season of 15-23 games, but it isn't. While it's just "another" game, a coach has to take into account the effect of the rivalry.
As we saw on Tuesday night, Eagle Valley volleyball took the "it's just another game" approach to Battle Mountain, and it worked because the victors write history. It's probably the right approach when you're the favorite, as the Devils were on Tuesday. (Eagle Valley had won three straight over the Huskies.)
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But the flip side of the coin is powerful. When you're the underdog, it's not just another game, and those emotions can be quite helpful.
Let's face it, Battle Mountain boys soccer has an issue with its Devils counterparts, particularly in Gypsum. The most dominant team the school has had during the last 20 years has lost to its rival at Eagle Valley the last three years and Round 4 is Oct. 5.
Part of it is that Eagle Valley soccer gets up for the Huskies and the emotion raises its play. The other part of it is mental on Battle Mountain's front.
Yes, John Ramunno Field in Gypsum is a smaller pitch that prevents Battle Mountain from playing as wide as it likes. But there's also the fact that playing Eagle Valley is Gypsum has gotten into the Huskies' collective head.
Battle Mountain soccer tries to play the Eagle Valley like it's just another game, but it isn't.
In retrospect, Devils volleyball coach Jackie Rindy is "genius" for her team's approach to Tuesday's game because Eagle Valley won. Had the Devils lost, she, like many coaches in the past and doubtless the future, would have been a blooming idiot. (Such are the vagaries of being a coach.)
There is no right answer to the question, and it's one of the reasons that everything Battle Valley-Eagle Mountain is compelling viewing.
• Indiana State's Wyatt Harwood, Battle Mountain '16, is the starting long snapper for the Sycamores. Indiana State was at Tennessee on Saturday. Let's stop for a moment here. Announced attendance was 99,015, short of a sellout of 102,455. Just imagine what that was like for a kid who played 3A Slope football, where a big crowd is maybe 2,000?
• Mariel Guttierez, Eagle Valley '15, remains a terror. She's been Big Sky all-conference for her first two years for Northern Colorado soccer. She has three goals and four assists for the Bears so far.
• Acacia Ortiz, Battle Mountain '15, and the Colorado School of Mines is riding a three-game winning streak going into its RMAC opener against Metro State Denver.
• Emily Quinn Cope, Battle Mountain '16, and Southern Methodist soccer are 3-1-2 and face TCU and Baylor this week.
• Brad Gamble, Eagle Valley '05, is the new head coach of track and field at Colorado Mesa University. (The columnist is old, as he remembers assorted Gambles competing for the Devils.)
• Speaking of Colorado Mesa, Roberto Diaz, Battle Mountain '14, continues the tradition of Huskies playing in Grand Junction.
• Laramie County Community College, in Wyoming, is also an Eagle County preps outpost. The Golden Eagles volleyball team features Carlee Morrison, Eagle Valley '16, and Kylie Martin, Eagle Valley, '17. The team's assistant coach is Britney Branson (nee Brown), Battle Mountain '07.
News and notes
• Back to the rivalry, Battle Mountain football is 2-0 and Eagle Valley is 0-2. Stop right there. Make no conclusions. The schedules these two teams are playing are apples and oranges. We'll see come Week 9.
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the Huskies actually having a home game on Friday against Coal Ridge. Eagle Valley, go get Lutheran. And let's go Saints vs. Cedaredge.
• Big weekend for Vail Mountain volleyball with road matches at Hayden and Meeker. This is the first of several tests for the Gore Rangers (3-0). Someone on the 2A Slope needs to break the grip of postseason berths by Paonia, Meeker and West Grand. Go, VMS.
• The Eagle Valley Invite for cross-country is Saturday at Gypsum Creek Golf Course. Freud will try not to bring his golf clubs. You should come, too. The Devil's Dash is at 9 a.m. followed by the varsity races.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
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