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Too much excitement for 1 week? Split up events

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Perhaps 10 years ago, it wouldn’t have been a problem.

Indeed, soccer is growing, even at the high school level, and more fans are interested in watching it.

That causes a bit of a headache for Columbus East Athletics Director Bob Gaddis and Columbus North Athletics Director Jeff Hester, who haven’t been able to switch the North-East football and soccer matches to their own weeks.

Both Hester and Gaddis said during the Columbus Rotary Club’s annual rivalry week luncheon at the Donner Center that in a perfect world, each sport would have its own showcase week for the rivalry games.

Putting on such big events that attract large crowds on the same weekend creates quite a challenge for both schools. And let’s remember the schools also deal with junior varsity and freshmen competitions that draw more fans than usual.

With so many scheduling commitments, it just works out that the North-East boys and girls soccer matches land the day after the North-East football game.

For the community, that creates a lot of excitement in one tidy package. However, it would probably benefit everyone involved if they could separate the football and soccer big games.

Personally, I would like to see such a change. The North-East football game is going to overshadow anything that takes place the same week, and it rightfully demands a lot of attention. Just take a look at the attendance numbers.

However, the high school soccer programs in Columbus can rival any city in the state when it comes to overall success, and their popularity continues to grow. They, too, deserve to be at the top of the marquee.

Rotary does service

How about a big atta-boy, or atta-girl, for the Rotary Club for once again trying to build support for the North and East rivalry week? I know the programs appreciate it very much.

On Monday at the Donner Center, four North senior athletes showed up along with the coaches, and I thought that was a good addition to the program, which didn’t have the athletes a year ago.

A glitch in the system kept East from bringing athletes as well, but I hope that becomes the norm next year. I know that the luncheon falls in the middle of the school day, but I’ve always felt that getting student-athletes to represent their schools, and having to say a few words to a crowd, is an important part of the education process.

I hope they show up next year to what is a cool event.

Staying off the pitch

East boys soccer coach Brad Barber proved that even coaches can learn new tricks, or at least to not pull out new tricks.

Barber decided he was going to play alongside his players during practice. After he cracked a rib in his first effort, he announced his permanent retirement from the pitch.

Columbus East girls soccer coach Ilya Schwartzman shared his coaching philosophy after losing 14 seniors from his team that reached the semi-state a year ago.

“We were thinking ‘Now what?’” he said. “How do we rebuild? How do we regroup? But, really, we just need to figure out how to make it work differently. These girls are capable of playing incredible soccer.”

North football coach Tim Bless loves that so many people show up for his team’s rivalry game against East, but he hopes the community remembers “the season continues after Friday.”

Radio Hall-of-Famer Sam Simmermaker once again worked Monday’s event as the master of ceremonies and he is, indeed, a master of making people feel respected and welcome.

Jay Heater is the Republic sports editor. He can be reached at or 379-5632.

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