More than a game
It’s been said that a game of tiddlywinks between students at Calvin and Hope would draw a crowd. Whenever these two long-time rivals meet in a game of any sort, the competition is always intense. Despite the intensity of the rivalry, the competition is almost always full of respect.
“To be sure, it is an intense rivalry but a respectful one,” said Hope president Dr. Jim Bultman in an interview with the NCAA’s Champion Magazine late this summer. “I never go into a Hope-Calvin game in any sport thinking that there’s going to be trouble. Do I worry about it with other teams? Yes, but not with these two.”
The two rivals are located roughly 30 miles apart from each other on the west side of Michigan with Hope located in Holland, while Calvin is located in Grand Rapids.
Alumni from both schools frequently work together, attend church together or in some cases, are married to a spouse who attended the other rival school or who have a sibling or parent that attended the other school.
Both Becky Schmidt of Hope and Amber Warners of Calvin are coaching at their alma mater where they were standout volleyball players in their own right. Schmidt, a 1999 Hope College graduate, was Hope’s first Division III volleyball All-American. Warner, a 1994 Calvin College graduate, was a three-time all-conference volleyball player. Warners has a 10-year coaching record of 285-56 (84 percent) and Schmidt an eight-year mark at Hope of 200-60 (77 percent).
The crowds are indicative of the rivalry across several sports. Earlier this month, more than 3,500 fans crowded into Hope’s Van Andel Stadium in Holland to witness a 1-0 Calvin win against Hope in men’s soccer. In 1997, a then NCAA III single-game record crowd of 11,442 fans jammed into Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids to see a Calvin-Hope men’s basketball regular season game.
“Whenever Calvin and Hope meet, it’s a happening,” said Dr. Jim Timmer — director of men’s athletics at Calvin — recently on a radio program in Grand Rapids. “The two schools have so many similarities that you consider each other like family. The thing is, when you compete against someone from your own family, you don’t like to lose for obvious reasons. That is part of what makes this rivalry so special.”
College football is full of great rivalries, but no two rivals have battled more often than Lehigh and Lafayette. Separated by just 15 miles in eastern Pennsylvania, the Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry dates to 1884, with the neighboring schools having played 146 times. At the end of the 19th century, it wasn’t uncommon for the rivals to meet two, sometimes three times a year. The first six meetings saw Lafayette produce five wins, while the teams tied once. The Leopards hold a 76-65-5 edge in the series, but Lehigh has re-gained the upper hand in recent years. The Mountain Hawks have won 11 of the last 16 meetings, dating back to 1995 and followed a four-year string of losses with three consecutive wins. Next month, Lehigh’s Class of 2012 will look to become the ninth football class in school history to go undefeated against Lafayette.
Simply known as “The Rivalry,” Lehigh and Lafayette is about more than football. It’s about a large university, consisting of three colleges, against “a little college on a hill.” Lehigh doubles Lafayette’s undergraduate enrollment and has double the alumni base to channel for support.
Since the formation of the Patriot League for football in 1986, Lehigh and Lafayette have been two of the most successful programs in the league. Lafayette has won or shared six titles, but Lehigh has won a league-best nine. Often times, the Lehigh-Lafayette game has determined the Patriot League champion, or had a NCAA playoff berth on the line, but even when it isn’t on the line, it can be memorable.
The most famous game in recent times would have to be the 1995 classic at Goodman Stadium. It was the first year of overtime in college football. Lehigh was playing for a Patriot League title, but found itself trailing 30-14. The Mountain Hawks rallied to force overtime. Following a scoreless first possession of overtime, Lehigh’s Brian Klingerman made a one-handed grab of a Bob Aylsworth pass in the back of the end zone. As darkness fell on Goodman Stadium, Lehigh went on to win and clinch its second league title.
Playing for dominance
Thirteen NCAA championships. 53 NCAA Tournament appearances, six matchups in the NCAA championship game. 27 ACC titles. By the numbers alone, Maryland and North Carolina are two of the nation’s powerhouses in Division I field hockey.
One of these two teams has won the last six national championships — Maryland in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010, and North Carolina in 2007 and 2009. They’ve met in the past two NCAA championship matches, each with a much different result.
On Nov. 22, 2009, the top-ranked Terrapins headed into the national championship game with a perfect season on the line. At 23-0, a win against No. 2 North Carolina that morning would hand them their fourth NCAA title in five years and seventh overall. But North Carolina had a different plan. The Tar Heels Danielle Forword drilled the game-winning shot with 11 seconds left.
In 2010, the Terrapins had a new look and once again faced the Tar Heels in the NCAA championship game, two weeks after they battled in the ACC championship game.
The two teams took the field in College Park. Once again, the Terrapins jumped out to an early lead as Hayley Turner scored four minutes and 30 seconds in. The Heels tied it up before half and coming out of the break, took a 2-1 lead.
Terrapin junior Harriet Tibble knotted the game at two in the 63rd minute and the game went into overtime. And then overtime again.
With 2:10 left in the second overtime, Maryland junior Megan Frazer drilled in a backhanded shot from the top corner of the circle to give the Terps their seventh national title on their home field. Revenge was sweet for the Terrapins.
An NCAA record crowd of 2,381 watched the match that day, proving once again that even by the numbers, this rivalry is among the best.
The 500-mile rivalry
According to Dictionary.com, synonyms for rivalry are “opposition, antagonism, jealousy”. Those words just don’t fit in the context of the competition between Wisconsin-Whitewater and Mount Union football teams.
UW-W director of athletics Dr. Paul Plinske puts it in perspective. “Mount Union has been a tremendous football program for decades,” Plinske said. “Anyone wanting to see the recipe for success in Division III football needs to start first with Mount Union. UW-Whitewater scheduled Mount Union in the early 2000s to get first-hand experience playing the best. We learned a great deal about the work required to attain and sustain that level of success. It’s incredible to see how good Mount Union has done, year in and year out. They are the standard that we are still trying to reach.”
UW-Whitewater is justifiably proud of its ascendance to the top of Division III, including a 36-game win streak, back-to-back NCAA III titles and six consecutive Stagg Bowl berths. But as Plinske points out, perspective is important. Mount Union owns the three longest win streaks in NCAA football (55, 54, 37), advanced to the Stagg Bowl thirteen times in fifteen years, including 10 titles.
Current UW-W head coach Lance Leipold replaces one “r” word, rivalry, with another, respect. “They are one of the most successful programs in college sports, something we’re trying to emulate. We hold them in great respect.”
Former Whitewater coach Bob Berezowitz directed the Warhawks to Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles four times in the 90s, and was looking to learn what it took to take the next step up. Mount Union’s Larry Kehres was willing to schedule a home-and-home, administering 44-21 and 40-17 “learning opportunities” UW-W took to heart in 2002 and 2003. Two years later the schools met again, this time in Salem for the national championship.
Leipold points out another aspect of a rivalry. “Rivalries are things that are on your schedule every year, maybe someone in your league, but you know the date is coming up,” Leipold said. “With us, we don’t know until some Saturday in December that we’re going to be playing or who we’re going to be playing.”
Plinske’s arrival in 2004, and Leipold taking over the football team in 2007, upped the competition another notch, developing into the only time in NCAA history that the same two schools have met for the national championship six consecutive times. That’s a rivalry, striving to be your best but not at the expense of another, in all the right connotations of the word.
The Big Spike
The California-Stanford rivalry had its auspicious beginnings in 1892 in football, but the Bay Area annual grudge matches permeates all aspects of Golden Bear and Cardinal Athletics — right down to the fact that the color red is banned in Berkeley. Though it can be called by a variety of names – the Big Game in football, the Big Splash in the aquatics sports, or even the Bay Area Derby in men’s and women’s soccer – the Big Spike between the Cal and Stanford volleyball teams is now a perennial battle for power.
Located approximately 45 miles apart in the San Francisco Bay Area and both competing in the Pac-12, Cal and Stanford have a natural geographical and conference rivalry. According to Cal head coach Rich Feller, it goes beyond that.
“I think a lot of traditional rivalries are based on location – Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State, Texas vs. Texas A&M,” Feller said. “But what is especially unique about Cal-Stanford is the fact that it’s large public school vs. small private school.”
The flagship institution of the University of California system, Cal was founded in 1868 and is home to roughly 35,000 students. On the other side of the Bay is Stanford – founded by mogul Leland Stanford in 1891 – which schools 15,000. While California is the No. 1 public institution in America, Stanford lays claim to top billings in the private school rankings. The classroom is just one of many places in which Bears and Cardinals fight for supremacy.
On the volleyball court, the Bears and Cardinal first met in 1976, when Stanford swept Cal, 2-1 and then 2-0. While the Cardinal owned a 40-match winning streak that lasted from 1982 until 2002, the recent resurgence of Cal volleyball quickly put an end to that.
Since Rich Feller took over the program in 1999 as its sixth head coach, the Bears have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in nine of his 12 seasons. In 2007, Cal reached the national semifinal match for the first time in school history in a season that told the country that the Bears were a real contender on the national stage, and Stanford was one of the first teams to notice.
Since that 2007 season, the Bears are 4-4 with the Cardinal. Last season, the Bears swept the Cardinal for the first time since 1979 – exacting two 4-1 wins against Stanford. Adding more fuel to the big fire, Cal and Stanford tied for first place in the Pac-10 last year, marking the first time the Bears had won a Pac-10 title. The now-heated rivalry has made for great entertainment for the student-athletes and fans alike.
“The fans get so into the matches making it even more competitive.” Cal volleyball alumna Meagan Schmitt said. “During one of the matches my freshman year, the Stanford tree and Oski got in a fight during the match!”
Overall, the Cardinal leads the all-time series, 62-10, but then-No. 1 Cal defeated then-No. 2 Stanford, 3-1, on Sept. 13 in front of a season-high 3,854 fans. Though it was the fourth time that the two squads had met while ranked in the top five, it was the first meetings when the Bears were the preeminent team in the country and Stanford was ranked second.
Cal and Stanford face off in the Big Spike – Part II on Nov. 25 on the Farm in Stanford in what could be the deciding match of the regular and conference seasons.
The Fall Classic X
On Oct. 1, 2011, senior place kicker Chase McCoy booted a 26-yard field goal as time expired to lift then No. 15-ranked Pittsburg State to a 38-35 victory against then-No. 1-ranked Northwest Missouri State in one of NCAA Division II football’s crown jewel rivalry games.
The game, dubbed The Fall Classic X, was played for the 10th consecutive season at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs.
The victory gave the unbeaten Gorillas, now 7-0 and ranked No. 4 in the most recent DII poll, mid-season leverage on pursuit of the 2011 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association crown, while the Bearcats, now 6-1 and ranked No. 6 in DII, had an string of 49 consecutive conference victories snapped in the process.
And while the contest will go down as arguably the best battle played to date in DII this season, it merely figures into a long line of storied match-ups between two schools. The two teams have combined to win four Division II national championships, appear in 11 title game and win outright or share 20 MIAA titles in the past 23 seasons.
In 2001, 11,862 fans crammed into the 8,400-seat Carnie Smith Stadium in Pittsburg to watch a 35-31 Bearcat victory. The next year, the two schools (with a combined population of 31,000 in Pittsburg and Maryville, Mo.) yielded 26,695 fans for the inaugural Fall Classic contest — the largest crowd ever to witness a DII game in an NFL venue.
The fans have continued to come (20,903 fan average in the 10-game series at Arrowhead) and the Bearcats and Gorillas have continued to annually put on a show.
Either Northwest or Pitt State played for the national championship every year from 2004-09. In three of those seasons, the two teams also met in the playoffs.
McCoy’s boot may have given Gorilla fans cause for celebration earlier this month, but history says the rivalry is far from over this season.
Coach’s View: In her own words
Editor’s Note: North Carolina coach Karen Shelton gives her view on the North Carolina/Maryland rivalry:
North Carolina-Maryland has evolved over the years into a great field hockey rivalry. Both programs have grown, progressed and stayed strong from the ’80s to the ’90s to the 2000s. Both teams have worked very hard to stay current with the game and the changes — our combined adaptability has been very good. And the leadership is there — they’ve had continuity in their coaching, as we have. I think both programs make each other better. The rivalry is strong, and it helps us both.
We have ended up playing in a lot of big games in the NCAA tournament, including five times in the championship, but we also frequently go head-to-head in the ACC Tournament. So we’ll meet in the regular season, then we might play them in the ACC tournament and then turn around a few weeks later and play them for a national championship. Some years we’ve played for two championships within a few weeks, which certainly ups the intensity level.
It’s always been a respectful rivalry, though. We admire a lot of things about their program and they admire things in our program. I think the biggest difference is that they tend to be more attack-minded, we’re more defense-minded. A lot of times when we play it will be the most potent attack in the country going against the strongest defensive team in the country, and that’s the way it’s playing out this year. Our philosophy regarding the game has remained consistent — we think that defense wins championships and we focus on that. It doesn’t mean we’re not trying to score goals, but we do prioritize defense, from the front to the back.
Wake Forest also tends to be more attack-minded, so it’s the same way when we face them, and Jen Averill at Wake Forest also has been a key part of the growth of these ACC rivalries. All of the programs and the outstanding rivalries have helped to grow the ACC. Back in the day, New England was the strongest area, and the Pennsylvania schools and the Big Ten have been strong, too. But in the ACC, together we’ve grown and developed the conference into the most powerful in the country. Now, top players are thinking, “OK, if I want to play at the highest level and I dream of playing for the U.S., then I need to go to the ACC.” That is a testament to the hard work of our players and coaches. When you’re going up against tough teams throughout the season, you’ve got to keep your program growing and making progress – you can’t ever let up, and we all push each other in that way.
All of our rivals make us better, and Maryland is certainly one of our toughest rivals. We always look forward to playing them — regardless of the outcome, we know that we’ll come out of the game a stronger team.
The Fan’s Vote
We reached out to you and asked who has the best rivalry in college football today. Don’t like results? Go vote for your favorite team: http://www.facebook.com/NCAADIFootball
What you are saying
This what you said about your favorite rivalries on our Facebook page.
DI Football – Army vs. Navy
Charles Wells: ARMY-NAVY!!! It is beautiful to watch these gentleman march in parade and the showmanship and sportsmanship does our Country proud
Chuck Emrich: Navy v. Army football. Fight against each other on the athletic field; fight together on the battlefield.
DII Football – Henderson State vs. Ouachita Baptist
Ernie Higgs: Henderson State vs. Ouachita Baptist. Separated by only Arkansas Hwy 7. That’s right!! Across the street from each other. Known as the Battle of the Ravine.
Division II – Gannon vs. Mercyhurst
Dan Teliski: Gannon vs. Mercyhurst … two schools in the same city located two miles apart. Great rivalry games!
DIII Football – Wabash vs. DePauw
Ryan Horner: Monon Bell Game (Wabash v. Depauw) has been on ABC and ESPN. 117 game series, and the schools are 27 miles apart. INSANE rivalry.
Jacob Isaacs: Wabash v. Depauw. No contest. All of the power of a Division I rivalry in a 100,000 seat stadium distilled down to its essence and crammed into maybe 5,000 seats if everyone holds their breath. No matter the sport, no matter the day, this rivalry is the biggest, most passtionate of any out there.
DIII Football – Randolph-Macon vs. Hampden-Sydney
Gordon Peters: Randolph-Macon and Hampden-Sydney. Older than most DI rivalries and still a great one. 118 years and counting.
Jason Ferguson: It’s called “The Game” for a reason…HSC vs RMC
David Hardie: Played in four of them have watched many more. Nothing like it Hampden-Sydney versus Randolph – Macon.
Division III – Hope vs. Calvin
Nathan Love: Hope v. Calvin anything! Nationally ranked volleyball teams, soccer competes for MIAA championships every year. Doesn’t get much better than Hope v. Calvin…
All information and photos compiled from respective athletic department websites and the Associated Press.