The Quest for Sparta’s Rival
Doherty High School, whose heart lives in athletics, struggles to find an answer to the program's most important question.
February 22, 2023
High school athletics are many things. They are where athletes like Doherty alumni, Olympic gold medalist Haleigh Washington, and former linebacker in the NFL, Lamarr Houston started their journeys. They are public forums for schools to show off their school spirit and bond. James McCoin, Athletic Director of Doherty said, “I think sports are a way to build community.”
He continued, “It’s a way for kids who support those programs, a chance to build a community, that one school and take pride in [that] school.”
These attributes shine best during rivalry games. According to the Association of Psychological Science, these kinds of games push athletes to be better and try to pull out all the stops to outwit the opponent.
In Colorado Springs alone, the list of high school sports rivalries is out of this ballpark (no pun intended). They range from the Lewis-Palmer Rangers, who face the Palmer Ridge Bears, the Widefield Gladiators and Mesa Ridge Grizzlies, and the Mitchell Marauders who found enemies in the Wasson Thunderbirds just to name a few.
Now, you may be wondering, who rivals the Doherty Spartans? That seems like it would be an easy one to answer, but as COVID made the world shut down, once thought to be set in stone traditions and a set in stone rival is a thing of the past. Lana Flenniken, Principal of Doherty who’s seen these changes among her student body explained, “When COVID hit and everything got shut down and we were in remote learning, there was a gap in how all of that [school spirit] was passed on to the underclassmen.”
She added, “School spirit is something that is passed down, and it’s sort of a rite of passage.”
Post pandemic, the school is now divided. It feels like every game you go to, no matter the sport or team, someone will inevitably say, “These are our rivals.”
Generally however, the same three schools are brought up as our #1 rival: The Palmer Terrors, Fountain-Fort Carson Trojans, and Coronado Cougars.
Other less common, but frequent answers that Spartans have said, are the Rampart Rams and Pine Creek Eagles. These schools would seem like they would be good contenders for the title, from the Rams spectacular girl’s volleyball to the Eagles amazing football. However it takes two schools to acknowledge a rivalry. Pine Creek track and cross country runner, Peyton Oppelt said, “I wouldn’t consider Doherty a rival. [It’s] definitely Rampart or Liberty.”
Pine Creek junior Sonia Florek added, “I don’t think Doherty, I think Rampart is more of a rival.”
Rams agree with Pine Creek on this one, Arez Khidr, who graduated from Rampart in 2021 said, “[They’re] not even in the same district, Liberty and Pine Creek are Rampart’s rivals.”
Amaneet Brar, who also attend Rampart stated, “Pine Creek was definitely more of a rival.”
Rampart alumma, Amez Khidr, disagreed arguing, “Doherty [if anything] is more of an out of district rival.”
Speaking on Pine Creek’s behalf, Principal of Pine Creek, Tracie Cormaney also disagreed saying, “I would say Doherty is a good rival because the athletic teams are so comparable and anytime we play them it’s a battle”
So what is it? Is there a case to be made that Sparta has a counterpart or is this yet another “new normal” and we are a rivaless school. So without further adieu, Let the games begin!
The Quest for Sparta’s Rival Chapter 2
Let’s start with the pre-covid answer, the Terrors of downtown Colorado Springs. Ask any former Spartans and they will without a doubt say the Palmer Terrors are our adversary. Sork Hamed, who graduated in 2016 said, “You can always tell there was tension, and whenever there were games, they were the biggest ones.”
You were always trying to beat them in every sport.
— Ashley Weitzel
Ashely Weitzel, who also graduated from Doherty and now teaches at Doherty said, “Back in the day our sports teams were most comparable, so you were always trying to beat them in every sport”
It’s no question that Sparta sees the Terrors as rivals. I mean, our similarities are there, from our same school district and identical student bodies to name a few things. They were a school we saw a lot, but ever since Doherty was put into CHSSA (Colorado High School Sports Association) 5A league, we see them less and less. But every year in boy’s basketball, no matter the division either school is in, Doherty and Palmer have a game full of stress, friendly competition and most importantly, pride. Senior Christian Drummond, who’s played in the game explained, “My pride is playing with a chip on my shoulder.”
He continued stating, “Knowing that this school really wants to beat us, and we have to prove we are better than them.”
Another D11 school that many Spartans see as a rightful competition are the Coronado Cougars. This year alone we have played them three different times. It also helps to know that we are in their head, from the barstool Instagram drama to first hand accounts. “I was surprised when I got to Doherty, that Coronado was not a bigger rival because when I taught at Coronado it was huge. We always wanted to beat the Spartans” said former Coronado teacher Jenny George.
There is just one issue, those three times we played them this year; we won all of them. In fact, over the past five years, we have won 20 out of 22 times in five different sports.
Ok that’s three schools that are off our list but now let’s go to a school that seems to grow every year as competition. We need to head more south and out of D11 to review, I’m talking about Fountain-Fort Carson. It’s one that just feels wrong, and as an outsider, you would be confused. This is a school that’s 30 minutes away and is in a whole other district for goodness sake. But if you were to sit down and think about it, there is a case here that gives the Terrors a run for their money.
For starters, our mascots are both named after two iconic Greek city states, the Trojans of Troy and the Spartans of Sparta. We play them a lot from softball to basketball to our annual Shield Game. A tradition started in 2017, in which both schools face off in a football brawl for the shield.
Our schools have combined played over 30 games in almost all sports in the last five years with us barely edging, winning 20 of them. These games are always stressful not just for fans but for the athletes as well. “[These schools have] a history of athletics, and a successful history that tends to attract kids who want to be a part of that.” said James McCoin
Doherty track and field runner, Reny Deabatee said, “When we are lined up in our heats to go into our lanes and run we look at each other and we know what’s up”
Jai’La Porter who’s played down in Trojan Town stated, “It was challenging, the students were mean, funny in a way but not really”
So is that it? Our winner seems to be the Trojans or Terrors. Each good in their own way, but suffice to say, it’s now a story of change or establishment. I may have helped narrow the playing field for you, but it’s now up to the players, coaches, staff and you to decide. So, let’s settle this debate one last time. Doherty, your #1 rival is…
Note from the Editor: Roy J. Wasson High School was ordered shut down due to budget cuts in 2013. The last rival game between Mitchell and Wasson was a win for Mitchell, 47- 40. The former high school was reopened the next year and is now called Roy J. Wasson Academic Campus