Otterbein vs. Capital-What It Means to the Players and those Connected to the Schools

On Saturday, cross-town rivals Otterbein College and Capital University will write the next chapter in their storied rivalry as both Women’s basketball teams tip off at 4:30 pm with the Men’s game scheduled to tip off at 7:30 pm. The rivalry is one of the most intense, physical and passionate rivalries in the Ohio Athletic Conference with how the games are meaningful to the players, coaches, administration and students at both schools.

When the two schools meet for football, almost everyone connected to the rivalry gets fired up in the ensuing days and hours leading up to the game. One of my favorite memories before calling an Otterbein vs. Capital football game sophomore year was when my broadcast partner, Andy Chow, called me the night before the game to tell me how excited he was for the opportunity and what time we needed to report to the stadium the next day. I don’t know if Andy was able to sleep with his excitement that night but he sure didn’t need any caffeine the morning of the game! Andy excitement was contagious to everyone working that broadcast that day and he couldn’t sit still in the broadcast booth as Otterbein was pulling off an upset that day. Even though Andy interrupted me quite a bit during that broadcast, I still laugh whenever I picture him jumping up and down in the pressbox during that game. I had seen that excitement in the players, coaches, and students attending Otterbein that day showing how meaningful the rivalry is.

Whenever the two schools would meet for basketball, I would see the same excitement out of the players, coaches, and students from both schools. In the days leading up to their matchup with the Capital women’s basketball team, I could see the excitement and determination in the players on the Otterbein women’s basketball team whenever I would run into them around campus. I don’t recall any exact conversations I had about the rivalry but just the tone of their voices and the look in their eyes proved how meaningful the game was to them. Students would often sell “Screw Capital” t-shirts around campus and students from both schools would create signs, costumes and other slogans to make fun of each team’s mascot and school colors. Otterbein students would often chant “you wear purple” at Capital players and fans while Capital fans would wear short shorts as a way to make fun of Otterbein head coach Dick Reynold’s dress code policy. Whether it was at the Capital Center in Bexley or the Rike Center in Westerville, the players and students from both schools would show up to cheer on their respective schools.

As I wrote in an earlier piece (which can be accessed here), my favorite memory of this rivalry came my senior year when the Otterbein women’s basketball team defeated Capital in the closing seconds of the game with Sara Fee’s “Shot Heard Around The Rike Center.” Otterbein had a steady lead slip away in that game and after Capital went up 62-60 with about four seconds left, a thought crossed my mind:

“This cannot end this way!”

I knew how much this rivalry meant to the players, their parents, the coaches and the students and losing like this would have been difficult to swallow. I obviously wasn’t out there playing but could feel the tension grow in the Rike Center as the Cardinals would have to rely on a last minute shot to win the game. I did not want to see a game against Otterbein’s biggest rivalry slip away like this and hoped the impossible would happen.

Similar to how my broadcast partner for that game, Aaron Angel, described me in his post about that game (see the link down below), I know the Otterbein players, coaches, and students felt like kids on Christmas morning when Fee’s shot went in from half court. Fee’s shot going in and defeating Capital was so meaningful to those emotionally involved with the rivalry and the noise and excitement inside the Rike Center was enormous. Otterbein graduate assistant Andrea Hackett admitted to me later on that she almost ran to center court with the rest of the team and the Otterbein students to celebrate because of the excitement from Fee’s shot going in. Anyone who saw the excitement and what ensued after Fee’s shot went in knew instantly how meaningful the rivalry was to the players, coaches, fans and students from both schools.

As the start time of both games gets closer and closer with each passing minute, I cannot help but recall how my grandfather, the late Joe Sabo, would e-mail me before every Otterbein vs. Capital matchup. Grandpa Sabo (as we called him) would always tell me how he and my grandmother “understood the there is a big rivalry between the two schools” and how meaningful it was to anyone emotionally involved. These two had never set foot on Otterbein’s campus for an Otterbein vs. Capital matchup but knew how meaningful the rivalry was based off the accounts from their favorite Otterbein student.


~ by jeffrsabo on January 29, 2010.

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