Long-time Rivals Join Forces on the Field

| February 1, 2013
girls combined lacrosse team

Athletes from Ludden and Grimes compete together on a combined lacrosse team.

The Oxford dictionary provides the following two definitions for the word “collaboration”:

1. The action of working with someone to produce something.

2. Traitorous cooperation with the enemy.

The juxtaposition could mirror Bishop Ludden Junior/Senior High School and Bishop Grimes Prep’s decision to join forces for the sport of lacrosse despite a long-standing rivalry. But in this case, the second definition is wiped away by the positive effects of the first.

“Historically, there was an innate rivalry between the schools,” said Bishop Ludden Athletic Director Laura Norris, “but these kids like to work together.” And with social media and electronic communications, the students have forged bonds off the field as well. “It’s easier to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on,” she added.

Born from necessity, the collaboration mutually benefits both schools and students from 7th grade through 12th. The boys and girls lacrosse programs at both the modified and varsity level have a nearly equal ratio of Bishop Ludden to Bishop Grimes players, according to John Cifonelli, Bishop Grimes athletic director.

“I would daresay that both schools would have a difficult time fielding teams on their own,” Norris added.

“It’s a numbers and economics issue, and as we move forward it is a means for us to keep and add activities,” Cifonelli said of the two schools that are just 12 miles apart on either side of the city of Syracuse, NY. According to Cifonelli, the concept of partnering to provide extracurricular activities is not completely new. Some time ago, Bishop Ludden students traveled to Bishop Grimes to train and compete with the cross country team.

Rome Catholic School and Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School in Utica, NY, are well versed in this kind of reciprocal athletic arrangement, too. Notre Dame Athletic Director Gene Leuthauser said their partnership began several years ago, and today one or two vans deliver Rome student athletes daily to the Notre Dame campus. Parents provide transportation for the athletes’ return trip home. Leuthauser said the students seem comfortable with their teammates from the neighboring school. “I don’t think a Rome child is treated any differently from a Notre Dame child. No distinction is made about which school you come from. The big thing that people need to realize is that in general the 

kids worry about today and being able to compete. The old rivalries are something adults hang on to,” he said.

Rome students are members of Notre Dame’s high school soccer, football and cross country teams, including younger students who make the 15 minute trip for modified basketball, baseball and softball. Two Rome graduates who trained and played with Notre Dame have gone on to play college level football. “It would’ve been much more difficult for them to have been seen by college coaches without the benefit of being able to play football all the way through high school,” Leuthauser said.

“If you look at the economic landscapes and the education budgets, you would see that in the future there will be some different opportunities for many schools, not just Catholic schools,” said Cifonelli, who noted that the on-field relationship between Grimes and Ludden is thriving.

“Now, we’re where we want to be and where we belong,” Cifonelli said. “We are one school district, and when we can help each other in this sort of a way, everyone’s a winner.”

Dyann Nashton is a freelance writer based in Oneida, NY.


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Category: Stewardship

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