The Truth Behind the “Rivalries”

Kayla Smith


For as long as anyone can remember, Arapahoe and Heritage have been high school rivals but if you put them together, you get quite the combination.


Both the Heritage gymnastics and hockey teams are certainly rare in the sense that each team is a combined team. That means that anyone in the school district can be a part of it, but is still under the title of Heritage. Athletes from these teams were interviewed to give their opinions on how being on a combined team has affected, or not affected them in their high school experience. If would be imagined that people from rivaling schools being on the same team would cause great conflict, but these athletes prove otherwise.   


Jack Lebar is a junior at Arapahoe High School who has played hockey for nine years. He is number 10 on the Heritage hockey team. Although the team is majority Heritage students, Lebar believes that it does not change how close of friends they are. Lebar said, “It is a very welcoming team, we are really close and all like each other. I feel like even if it was kids all from the same school, the team dynamic would stay the same.”


One  undoubtedly interesting thing about the Heritage gymnastics team is that there are actually more Arapahoe girls than there are Heritage. According to Heritage Senior Kaela Schandle, schools are irrelevant when it comes to being on the team. “I do not think it really matters about what school you are from, we all support each other equally and come together as one,” she says. “It is actually really fun to talk about who we know from each of the schools. It is also fun to joke around about the rivals at sporting events but for the team we put all that aside and act like sisters,”


Arapahoe Senior Sophie Yano is also a part of the Heritage gymnastics team. She feels that being on a team with girls from different schools has made her a more social person. “I think that being part of a mixed team has made me more comfortable with the idea that you can be friends with people who do not go to your school.”


So what is the truth behind the rivalries? Yano says, “I think it is important to have rivals because it creates a sense of camaraderie within schools but I really do not take it seriously.” Lebar has similar views on the topic. “I still cheer for Arapahoe of course because it is my school but I really do not buy into the whole rivalry thing,” he says.


Although being on a combined team has definitely proved to be a great experience, it has some downfalls as well. The first being for Arapahoe students specifically, is that all their sports apparel says Heritage on it. Yano says, “It can be a little awkward wearing Heritage apparel to Arapahoe because of how the students and teachers react. But otherwise I do not really mind.” Knowing the reaction that students would give players for wearing clothes from another school, the hockey team has made an exception. Lebar says, “On CHSAA game days, Heritage students wear their jerseys, but Arapahoe and Littleton students just wear a shirt and tie because we would be given a really hard time if we came to school with a jersey that said Heritage.”


Another downfall of being on a different school’s team is the lack of recognition they receive. It is somewhat understandable that Arapahoe would not recognize a Heritage team, but turns out even at Heritage they fly under the radar. “The team really does not get a whole lot of recognition, but it has always been like that,” says Schandle. Almost never does the name Heritage gymnastics team or Heritage hockey team appear over the morning Arapahoe announcements. “It makes me very sad that our sport is the most underfunded, under appreciated sport in the entire LPS school district,” says Yano. In the spring the hockey team actually competes under Arapahoe’s name but even then recognition does not compare to what other sports get. “The hockey team does not get too much recognition at Arapahoe, and in the spring it increases a little but not a significant amount,” Lebar says.  

Overall, these athletes gained a lot more than they have lost being on a combined team. Yano says, “I have gained so much from being on this team. I met all my best friends on this team because high school gymnastics introduced me to people I would never had gotten to know otherwise. I have gained so many close friends and I am a lot more confident in myself.”

Schandle says, “I have been on this team for all four years and the ability of all the gymnasts and close we have all become as friends this year has made it one of my best.”

Lebar says, “I have gained a lot of things really. Hockey and this team specifically has taught me a lot of lessons that can be applied to life. Like a strong sense of teamwork, trust, work ethic, and perseverance.”

So yes, being on a combined team may mean that the sport is not really recognized. They may be wearing gray and red more often than they wear black and gold, but being on these teams has taught these athletes to be more social, confident people, who can learn to put aside rivalries and really work together as a team to best that they can be.