Century-long rivalry lives on through club sport teams

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri vs. Kansas rivalry is anything but dead for club sports players at the University of Missouri. 

The Border War rivalry between the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas is one of the biggest and most well-known rivalries in the state of Missouri. Dating all the way back to the Civil War, the two universities started playing each other in Division I athletics in the 1890s. 

For Missouri residents such as Erin Casey and Thomas Franklin, the rivalry has been a part of them their entire lives. 

"We're kind of bred in a way to have a healthy distaste for J-hawks. It's just kind of what you do when you're born in Missouri. You're a Mizzou fan, and you don't like KU fans," said Casey, a club softball coach originally from St. Louis. 

"Growing up as a fan, ever since I was a little kid, whenever I saw anything KU, it was always keep it away, burn it, do whatever you can to get it out of sight essentially," said club hockey Assistant Captain Franklin, also from St. Louis. 

Both schools were in the same athletic conference and competed annually in all sports until 2012 when Missouri left the Big 12 to join the Southeastern Conference. 

"I was disappointed. I'm a big fan of rivalry games, and it's tough to see your biggest rival you've played for so many years. And that gets everybody excited, and you don't get to play them anymore," said club hockey player Cody Cannon. 

Since joining the SEC the only Division I meetings between the two schools have occurred during post-season play, but the rivalry isn't completely over. Many club sports teams at the University of Missouri still regularly play Kansas. Some of these teams include the club softball, hockey and swim teams. 

"We play with NCSA which is different than NCAA, and so we have different break ups of our regions, and so KU still falls in our region, and so we still get to play them," said club softball player Emily Summers.

"They have a club hockey team, and we've always had a big rivalry with them in Independence Missouri every year. Their team disbanded for a couple of years, and they just brought them back this year so they called us and wanted to play us again and so we jumped at the opportunity to do that," said Cannon. 

Just because the club teams don't play on as big of a stage as the Division I athletes, it doesn't mean the rivalry isn't as competitive.

"It's a big deal especially for us seniors. Some of the younger girls, they weren't there for big KU/Mizzou stuff. So for us to be able to be like you know what, this is still a big deal. We still want to beat them," said club softball President Kelly Sandelin.

"If you see a J-hawks swim cap next to you though, you want to swim just a little bit faster," said club swim President Jackson Aaberg. 

The club hockey team beat the Jayhawks in both their meetings this past fall while the softball team went 1-2 in their three game series against KU.