They called us River Rats and let rats loose in our school during a volleyball match. Our chants of OV! OV! OV! were turned into OV (sucks)! OV (sucks)! OV (sucks)! But we retaliated against those Sewer Ponies and someone burned an OV in their football field. After a win in boys basketball they stormed our court (we stormed theirs the season before) and one of our students tossed a 20 oz. (empty, I think) bottle into the heap and hit one of the players square in the temple.
The Owen Valley Patriots vs. The Edgewood Mustangs in the late 90s/early 2000s. Ah, those were the glory days.
Like any great rival, we each played our best against each other and our student sections came out in full force. Gyms were packed, emotions ran hot and the stakes were high. A win could turn a losing season into a partial success and a loss (especially in a sectional) could destroy it.
OV is less than 30 minutes from Bloomington, so I know the Indiana vs. Purdue rivalry well. But there’s nothing like a classic high school rivalry that pits two similar-sized neighboring towns against each other. There are decades of history and the hatred has been passed down from generation to generation. It didn’t matter if it was volleyball, Spell Bowl or marching band – we wanted to beat them and they wanted to beat us.
I’m happy to say that the rivalry continues. This year both the OV boys and girls basketball teams beat the Edgewood teams on last-second shots at the Mustang Corral. The Edgewood boys basketball team then got their revenge against OV in the sectional final. It will be a long off-season for the Patriots.
I’m glad to have grown up in that hostile, yet spirited environment. It made a better athlete and a more passionate fan. But I’ll never get over the emotions associated with the rivalry. It took me YEARS to be able to wear black and red together – the colors of the Mustangs. My brother-in-law is now the band director for the arch nemesis and I still refuse to wear anything with a big E on it (although I will stand up and cheer for them at contests). As the ESPN commercials say, “It’s not crazy, it’s sports.”
Who was your hometown rival? Have any great stories?
This post was written by Kristen Fuhs Wells, director of communications for Indiana Humanities. Kristen grew up in Spencer and played volleyball, tennis and basketball for Owen Valley High School.