Keeping with the theme of the Rotary Club’s rivalry week luncheon, Columbus North girls soccer coach Derek Stewart issued a politically- correct statement when he talked about facing Columbus East.
“Whether you win or lose, it’s a lot of fun,” Stewart said Monday at Donner Center.
But before he could leave the podium, he offered one more note.
“It’s tough to lose … let’s be honest,” he said.
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The Rotary Club, which has made the rivalry week luncheon an annual event, hosted the football coaches of the two schools along with the boys and girls soccer coaches.
The six coaches all managed to speak to the crowd without supplying any blackboard material to stoke their particular big game. Everything was positive.
“The players all know each other,” East football coach Bob Gaddis said. “They like each other before the games and after the games.”
North football coach Tim Bless said extra incentive would not be needed by either team.
“I don’t think any rah-rah speeches are necessary,” Bless said.
Fans certainly don’t need any pep talks to attend Friday’s football game at Columbus East. The two teams won by a combined score of 81-7 in their openers.
“It’s going to be a great game,” Gaddis said.
On Saturday at the Wigh Soccer Complex, the two cross-town rivals face off in both boys and girls soccer.
Columbus East boys soccer coach Brad Barber noted that his goalkeeper, A.J. Cruite, will get a double-dose of rivalry competition. Cruite doubles as the place-kicker for the Olympians in football.
The boys won’t be the only ones taking this weekend’s competition seriously. Columbus East girls soccer coach Ilya Schwartzman said that during his 11 years as head coach his players always have placed a great deal of importance on their game against the Bull Dogs.
“It’s always been intense, and it’s always been fun,” Schwartzman said. “The pressure is higher for this game, but it’s because the players put more pressure on themselves. This game draws a huge crowd.”
Stewart said the level of play usually rises during the rivalry games.
“There is an electricity and the girls respond to that,” he said.
During the Rotary luncheon, all the coaches spent most of the time talking about their own squad.
Barber noted that his team’s cumulative grade-point average increased for the fourth year in a row. North boys soccer coach Andy Glover, whose teams have been perennial state title contenders, said that he was trying to focus on the fact that the players’ relationships will last a lifetime, something he said is more important than wins and losses.
Schwartzman said that “tradition never graduates” at East and that his staff promotes a “family environment” in the girls soccer program.
Stewart lost 11 seniors from last year’s sectional champion, but he looked on the bright side, saying that his young players will get “tons of time and plenty of experience.”
Bless was proud of his 19 former Bull Dogs who currently are playing college football and Gaddis said that East has more players in the football program than ever before.
Now it’s time to turn it over to the players.
“I just tell our players to enjoy the environment,” Gaddis said. “The people before you made it that way.”
North vs. East football
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Columbus East High School
North vs. East boys soccer
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Wigh Soccer Complex
North vs. East girls soccer
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Wigh Soccer Complex