By Jessica Stopper
Athlete’s never want to be in comparison to another team, so when they go face-to-face against each other, the competition is at an all time high for the win, what we all know as rivalry.
San Jose State’s baseball team lives for its rivalry games.
“The best thing as a coach is having to have to dial guys down — having to settle them down as opposed to getting them excited,” said head baseball coach Jason Hawkins.
Hawkins grew up in Oregon with rivalry surrounding him until his mid twenties when he moved to California. Hawkins said the state splits up in half, defending either Oregon State or the University of Oregon.
“I love it,” Hawkins said. “It adds energy to the week leading up in terms of preparation and focus.”
Members of the team agreed that Fresno is their top rival because it is a year-long battle, starting on the football field and ending with baseball.
“The biggest rival I would say would be Fresno State,” said senior pitcher Graham Gomez. “They’re (Fresno) a rival for us in football. We play for the Valley Trophy against them and it carries over to the baseball team.”
Being the closest team, distance wise, in the same conference as the Spartans, Fresno State has always been the big rival.
The tension and competitiveness does not reside just with the players and coaches but with the fans, too.
Going into his first game as head coach for SJSU against Fresno, Hawkins said he expected opposing fans to be more rowdy than they were.
Senior catcher Jack Veasey thought the same and said Fresno has gotten away from it’s old crowd.
“I remember being a sophomore, going there playing Friday night and the crowd was over us for every little thing we did, especially strikeouts and anytime we walked somebody,” Veasey said. “The crowd plays a big factor during a game.”
Some players despise the opposing team and have even more hate when it is their rival team.
Going into a rivalry game, the players go in to win for the one purpose. Bragging rights.
“We hate these guys, these guys hate us and we need bragging rights,” said senior infielder sophomore Shane Timmons. “It’s important to get that win more than others.”
Some players enjoy home rivalry games because their family and friends are in the crowd cheering and less of the opposing team is in the stands.
For Timmons, however, he loves playing on the road against Fresno.
“When we go there, it’s a lot more fun. I would say because their fans hate us and want to see us fail,” Timmons said. “So it’s kind of fun to go in there and just prove them wrong and beat them in their own ballpark.”
There is a local rivalry between SJSU and Santa Clara University.
“I think it’s an important rivalry,” Hawkins said. “It’s about who owns the city from a recruiting standpoint and there’s that private/public tension.”
Hawkins said he wants to open up the season against Santa Clara every year, and though the two schools aren’t in the same conference, he proposed the idea could stimulate the local rivalry at higher level than it currently is.
Other than the intensity of the competition of the game, rivalry brings the fun into it when it can sometimes be lost through technicalities. Rivalries remind fans and players why they fell in love with the sport in the first place.