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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Rivalries keep Wildcats vigilant

Every season, there’s always one game everybody on the team has been waiting for. It’s marked by packed stadiums, pumped-up players, anxious coaches and wild fans.

The cause of this anticipation, attendance and temporary t? Chico State’s rivalry game.

Rashad Parker, who plays on the Chico State men’s basketball team, is ready to “handle business” against Chico State’s rival this season.

“Technically Humboldt is our rival school,” Parker said. “A lot of people at Chico know people who go to Humboldt, so whenever we play them, there’s always a huge turnout at the game.”

Humboldt State might be Chico State’s traditional rival, but there are three other teams the basketball team has on its radar this year.

“Sierra Pacific came in and embarrassed us in our own gym by 30 points, so that’s a team we really want to beat,” Parker said.

“Cal Poly Pomona beat us four times last year,” he added. “In the championship game, and in the NCAA tournament that ended our season, so it would be great to beat them as well.”

Parker also had another team in mind.

“Cal State East Bay,” he said. “Mostly because our former assistant head coach is now the head coach for their team. He recruited most of us playing now and none of us want to play and lose against our old coach.”

Chico State men’s soccer goalie James Stroud is no stranger to rivalries.

“We have a couple rival teams, but historically its always been Sonoma State,” Stroud said. “However, two years ago we lost in the conference playoffs to Cal State L.A. That was a bummer for us and we took it really seriously, so every time we play them it turns into a really intense game.”

“I think what makes these games even more of a rivalry and more intense is we get to know the players better and better every time we play them,” he added. “It gets to the point where cards start getting thrown out because people get so frustrated.”

Both basketball and soccer are aggressive, intense sports with one-on-one contact. It’s one thing to win or lose against a random team, but when it’s that one team that Chico State just has to beat and cannot lose to, everything changes.

“It really makes a difference when you win an intense game at home, versus when you win at an away game,” Stroud said. “After an away win, there’s not much you can do because we have to travel and get on a plane, and at home you have all your friends, family and fans cheering you on way after the game’s ended.”

Winning a rivalry game is one of the happiest feelings, Parker said.

“You just keep thinking about all the great moments of the game and celebrate with the team,” Parker said. “We only have that time to enjoy it completely because the next morning we have to wake up early and prepare for our next game.”


Thembiso Mawema can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_sports on Twitter.

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