This rivalry should be respected |

This rivalry should be respected

Even before I took this job – while covering school board meetings in central Indiana – I saw this coming.

I kept tabs on the Miners and Pacers via the Internet. I saw that both were steamrolling through the Metro Conference, destined for a dramatic showdown my first week of work at The Union.

It looked great at first, but then I checked out the message boards.

The trash talk I read on Sac-area Web sites left me wondering why the blood between Nevada Union and Grant had turned so bad.

So I asked.

Just how much does Mike Alberghini and his Grant Pacers hate Dave Humphers and the Nevada Union Miners?

And vice versa?

Not at all – or at least the animosity isn’t what it used to be.

That doesn’t mean, though, there’s no rivalry here.

“There’s no hate,”Alberghini said. “When I was young and new at coaching, it was different. But over the years, you work as hard as you do and you just learn you should respect them.”

Humphers admits things got heated between the powerhouse programs at times, but the continued high level of competition simply brought forth the respect he and Alberghini now share.

“Absolutely,” he said. “The rivalry is just as intense as ever. However, over the years its been taken to a new level, one of mutual respect.”

That respect was evident Wednesday, when Alberghini, Humphers and five players from each team got together for lunch in Auburn. The players spoke about what the game means to them, but the words shared at lunch were only part of the story. The fact that the two sides came together said much more.

“We had a sportsmanship luncheon,” Humphers said. “It was really a positive experience. It’ll be an intense game.

“There were times when the rivalry had a real anger to it, but the last few years have been quite positive – even though the game is still as intense.”

And it will be intense tonight.

And there will be a winner – and a loser.

But at game’s end, the fans on hand should watch the field closely.

Watch the players. Watch the coaches.

There’s a lot to learned from the handshakes, the high fives and the pronouncements of “good game.”

Whatever the outcome, this annual showdown is one that both programs should be proud of. They are top-shelf squads each year.

Keep your trash talk away from this game. It deserves better. It warrants the highest regard for the players and the coaches on its sidelines.

This games deserves that, especially from the fans who are so enthralled by it each season.

Brian Hamilton is sports editor at The Union. Contact him at 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; 477-4240; or

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