LaSALLE – Admit it, Dixon sports fans. You’d be hard-pressed to remember the last time you heard a fellow Dukes fan say, “That was great blocking by Sterling” on a Friday night.
Sterling faithful, you likely haven’t overheard “That’s a nice piece of hitting” while a Duke was batting against a Warrior.
And Rock Falls apologists, there’s no way you said, “That’s a good call” after a blocking foul was called as a Warrior drove to the hoop.
But something pretty cool happens on the golf course. And it happened in an epic way Tuesday afternoon, as the Sauk Valley swept the sectional berths at Oak Ridge Golf Club.
But first, step into my way-back machine, even if we’re not going too far back. Set the dial for Sept. 11, 2013, when the Warriors edged the Rockets at Emerald Hill Golf Course.
I spent a lot of time that evening with Larry and Julie Rehmert. Naturally, they cheered their son, Zach, during the dual meet. But they spent as much time – if not more – cheering for the hated Rockets.
How dare they? Don’t they know these kids are like oil and water? Cats and dogs? Like Jets and Sharks?
OK, I know I lost a large portion of the readership with that last analogy.
What I was able to confirm a few minutes after the regional meet is that is not, in fact, the case. I already knew where (most of…one Rock Falls parents did say they “want blood” leading into the aforementioned dual meet) the parents stood.
“That’s awesome, that all three teams got through,” Zach Rehmert said moments after the scores were posted.
“I think it’s pretty great having everyone from the Sauk Valley,” Trevor Sisson said. “You really know all the kids, and it’s fun to compete with them.”
“I think it’s fun having players we know from the area, all advancing together,” Rock Falls senor Andrew Tichler said.
After we watched his son tee off on No. 14 on Tuesday, I broached the possibility of the Sauk Valley squads sweeping with Terry Tichler.
“My gosh,” he said, his mouth dropping open and his eyes widening. “That would mean so much to me. I would be thrilled.”
A few holes later, I pulled up alongside Trevor Sisson’s parents, Mark and Brenda. They’d already plied me with water and a rehash of the Sterling senior’s round thus far.
As we watched Trevor and his Rock Falls playing buddy (not a clever term. They’re actually good friends. I know, right? Crazy!) Cooper Kilberg convert their pars, I brought up Kilberg’s tee shot.
“I thought it was going in,” Mark said. “That would’ve been amazing. It would’ve been the story of the day.”
“He’s a cool kid,” Trevor said. “I’ve played with him twice this year. We get along good, and I usually play good when I play with him.”
That sort of sportsmanship won’t surprise any of the coaches involved. Sterling’s C.J. Wade and Dixon’s Pat Lessner have given lessons to members of the “opposing” squads. And Tom Frank, in his 15th year coaching the Rockets, caught up with Ryan Hurley’s parents. Their first question most times was how his athletes were faring.
“It’s anything but a mean, nasty rivalry,” Frank said. “Our kids are friends with their kids. It’s really a friendly rivalry on the golf course.”
As I darted around the patio outside the clubhouse, trying to secure all my interview subjects, Lessner had a great idea.
“Say, why don’t you get a picture of all three teams together?” he posed.
I figured it wasn’t the best time to tell him that I’m not a real photographer, nor have I played one on TV. But smartphones have a way of making novices like me look pretty serviceable, and I figured this would double as a way to make sure no one got away before I tortured – er, interviewed – them.
So we gathered everyone around the clubhouse and got a pretty slick picture.
There it was (and it’s on Twitter, so it’s official). In my lexicon, it was like Brewers, Cubs and Cardinals, happily co-existing.