Unity in Rivalry

Rivalry games unite communities from different generations in school spirit.

Students, faculties, staff and alumni, rallied together to cheer for their teams in a game featuring the UAAP Women’s Volleyball’s current biggest rivals, Ateneo and La Salle. (Jhona Mae Dela Cruz / facebook.com/getblued.ateneo )

From FEU and UST, San Beda and Letran, to Ateneo and La Salle – the Philippines is home to some of the most amazing rivalries in collegiate sports. In games like these, it’s not unusual for students present and past to line the bleachers in their school colors. For games like this, it’s not unusual for university staff and faculty members to take a break from molding young minds to cheer for their team.

Of the current rivalries, one of the biggest and most popular is the women’s volleyball clash between Ateneo and La Salle. Since 2011, this rivalry has grown beyond the basketball court (where both teams are tied with 8 UAAP titles) where it all famously began. For the past five years, both teams have traded spikes and trophies in the UAAP Finals.

Long before the Ateneo-De La Salle volleyball rivalry, it was the FEU Lady Tamaraws and the UST Tigresses (from Season 56 in 1993, all the way to Season 60) that triggered the rise of collegiate volleyball’s current popularity. Even before the games were televised, the FEU-UST matchups would pack stadiums and had fans on the edges of their seats as they witnessed Angeli Tabaquero’s spikes, the tandem of Venus Bernal and Mary Jean Balse, the sets of Wendy Semana, and the friendship of Rachel Ann Daquis and Denise Tan.

In 1998, a new rivalry came to the fore in the battling forms of FEU and La Salle that would be remembered as one of the fiercest in the history of the sport. From Seasons 62 to 65, FEU captured their first three-peat, while La Salle matched the feat from Seasons 66-68. Over the course of ten years, the two teams would each claim the title five times, establishing themselves as perennial contenders.

So what is it about rivalries that brings out the passion of fans?

Teams compete, not just for victory, but for their overwhelming sense of school pride. Rivalry games are able to do more than rally communities together – they are able to bring out the best in them. In support of their teams, fans unite to sing songs and chant cheers to beating of massive drums, elevating each game’s intensity and drama to greater heights.
For UAAP Season 78, fans could very well be treated to another showdown between Ateneo and De La Salle. As volleyball continues to grow in popularity, we could witness the births of new rivalries and different teams emerging to contend for the UAAP crown. Whatever happens, the fans will always be ready to unite for pride and in spirit to give their all-out support for their teams through the sweetness of victory and the bitterness of defeat.

Supporting your team is about more than the sport being played or a place in the standings; for the fans, it’s all about rallying together, united not just by school spirit, but by pride.

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