Inside Eastern’s Sports Rivalries: Exploring the history and purpose of Eastern team rivals.

      Every sports team can be caught up in or with a series of opponents, in which all athletes attempt to give their best performance yet. With a long history together or a new matchup against an opponent within one’s division, conference, or region that always creates tension/obstacles in order to succeed, is how we will define a rival. Although some are permanent while others are temporary, what truly stirs up a fierce rivalry is loyalty; home turf and fanatics.

      According to KPLU’s Sports Commentator Art Thiel, the two elements that make up a great rivalry is “stakes and proximity”. What is being offered and/or sacrificed? How often must we see each others faces? These are the questions that arise within a rivalry, and these questions are what leads to extraordinary or mediocre performances.

      There are many places to beginning with but let’s explore the element of proximity. Eastern University’s historic Eagle Road Rivalry with Cabrini University in the men’s basketball conference. The two teams formerly facing off time and time again contending for their division lead, helped to create intensity felt by the players, coaches, and students. The geography between the universities also gave the rivalry a special flavor, for neither team wanted to hang their head in defeat, while across the street shouts of celebration filled the sky. Fans like to add fuel to the fire, two years ago at a Cabrini’s men’s basketball game, EU students bringing tension to the court with loud and disruptive behavior, to the point a player was given the nickname “chicken legs”.

      Some rivalries are identified by an organization or institution as a whole. An example of this is seen with Messiah College. Just like Eastern they are a faith-based Christian college that also has a firmly established athletics department, and they make it a challenge to compete against them.

      A team rivalry that supports Art Thiel’s stakes theory would be none other than Eastern’s women’s volleyball against Juniata college. These two teams go toe-to-toe down to the wire during before regular and postseason matchups. This rivalry birthed out of the teams determination to excel and out come as victors of the NCAA Sweet 16 tournament. Both teams acknowledge the talent and spirit of the athletes, and look forward to facing off when stakes are on the line. John Post, Associate Athletic Director for Compliance and Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer says the rivalry is, “one of mutual respect so it’s not ugly. I would also say that is true with DeSales as we have battled it out for the last 7 years straight for the Freedom title!”

      For research purposes we asked the EU teams and athletes to share their thoughts about their rivals, and that the student body may be aware of them in order to support the teams during tough matchups.

      Sabrina Thomas of the women’s softball team claimed that their rivalry is Del Val.

      “They give a great competition and the games always keep you on edge,” Thomas said.

      Sal Tortora of the men’s golf team also had a claim on who is the rival team for them

      “I would say Manhattanville because they are the ones that beaten us in the conference championship recently. They have had a deep team the past few years which have allowed them to win,” Tortora said. For the women’s golf team, Elaina Mcgarrigle claimed another team for their rivals.

      “Stevenson and Alvernia,” Mcgarrigle said.

      For the lacrosse teams, each one had a team that they would name their rivals.

      “Manhattanville,” Alison Andres of the women’s lacrosse team said.

      However, the men’s lacrosse team had another school they deemed as their rival.

      “Our top rival is Misericordia by far. They’re known around here as miserablecordia because of how much we butt heads when we go against each other. It’s always a battle back and forth. We want nothing but to bury them every time we face them,” Alec Morshead said.

      Track and Field at Eastern had some overlapping rivals to some of the other teams.

      “Misericordia and Stevenson,” Katelyn Bernotas said.

      The tennis teams agree that Wilkes is their top rival.

      “It’s hard to beat them,” Lauren Good said.

      The field hockey team claimed that Fairleigh Dickinson University is their main rival and Alison Hoag reflected on what it is like to compete against a rival.

      “When you play against your rival, you can sometime see yourself become a different individual or player, because that emotion only comes around every now and again, and you feed off of it. You know that once you step on the field/court, it’s not just a small battle; it’s a full out war,” Hoag said.

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