Most athletes have a specific game marked in their calendar, one that they beg will show up on the schedule once the season comes around. For Christopher Columbus High School athletes, Belen Jesuit, for no matter what sport, is the team they are eager to play.
Since both schools are all-boys private high schools, the teams battle to show off their dominance in their annual rivalry.
Games like these are usually played in big-name facilities including the University of Miami, Florida International University, and even Marlins Park. These venues can lead to a large confidence booster for the atheletes.
“At first you’re a little nervous, but as the crowd gets bigger, they really get get us going and help us in our game,” said Tico Mata, a senior point guard for the Columbus Explorer basketball team.
With large crowds and loud student sections, pressure tends to mount and impact the performance of the athletes. One goal of the coaching staff is to alleviate the stress.
“We are asking 15-18 year old kids to make plays, so one of the most important things we tell them to do is remain settled and slow the game down,” said Gaston Rodriguez, the head basketball coach for the Belen Wolverines. Rodriguez understands the excitement that goes through these players and makes sure it does not get the best of them.
No matter what sport these two teams play each other in, the players provide great energy and effort that the coaches and fans feed off of, regardless of whether they have experienced the rivalry before or not. “This rivalry is beyond me. It is my first time in it and it is a really cool experience,” said Rodriguez.
However, with the rivalry comes friendships that will never be forgotten within the sports community. “I think this is an incredibly healthy rivalry that both schools benefit highly from,” said Jorge Arrizurieta, a Belen Jesuit alum who has been active in watching the sporting events, especially since his sons now attend his alma mater.
Anyone who is involved in the Columbus-Belen community (or any private school atmosphere in general) really comes to see how highly touted these sports matchups can really be, as well as how the games live up to the expectations. These friendly yet competitive sports events will live on for many years, and the players will continue to step up their games to keep the fans interested in watching it.
Also produced by Justin Jackson, Christopher Ahrendt, and Antonio Castellanos