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Terryville, Thomaston put rivalry aside, (at least for now)

POSTED September 02, 2012
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                    Terryville, Thomaston put rivalry aside

                                                   (at least for now)

            TERRYVILLE – Score one for the love of the sport over the love of the rivalry.

            Terryville and Thomaston High Schools are co-opping in girls soccer this season. The idea of two schools combining to play a sport is not new. Wamogo and Thomaston do it in golf, Northwestern and Gilbert do it football and there are numerous examples all over the state when schools are lacking numbers in a sport or a sport all together.

            However, the idea of Thomaston and Terryville getting together for anything in sports other than a friendly rumble is very new. Actually unheard of. The two schools, a scant four miles apart like to beat each other too much, location and history producing a formidable combativeness, flat out dislike at times and a rich, rich history for all time.

            So when the two schools got together during the spring and agreed to co-op in soccer you wondered if it would work. Terryville was down in numbers with 12-15 girls and Thomaston’s team became extinct four seasons ago when low numbers prevented it from being a competitive entity.

            There was a need on both sides, but Thomaston and Terryville on the same side? At one time you would have needed a psychic evaluation if you suggested the idea. You might have been excommunicated from either town or both.

            Thomaston playing under the Terryville banner at Terryville High School? Brown and Gold Bears putting on those, hold it you can barely envision it, black and orange colors? You could feel the shudder. Terryville hanging with those beastly Bears from down the hill? You can hear the silent sentiment - shoot me first.

            But Litchfield County’s Hatfields and McCoys have put aside the history and all that it brings with it instead proving that playing the game is what matters most.

            The team which finished last season with a 0-16 record and barely enough players to make up a team is now at 28 strong with half of the bodies coming from Thomaston. It is still Thomaston and Terryville in every other sport and all that goes with it. But here and now, the two are working to be one.

            “We all get along pretty well,” said Thomaston senior Kellie Dattilo after a spirited practice Tuesday afternoon. “We had one practice, a captain’s practice, before the first official practice and we have connected on social media. We all live for the sport.”

            “It’s different, really weird,” said Thomaston senior Sydney Keith who has been in the wars against the Kangaroos in front of packed gymnasiums as a starter on Thomaston’s Berkshire League champion basketball team. “I was a little nervous but they welcomed us.”

            Senior Cassie Powell who transferred to Thomaston from Nonnewaug her sophomore year is just excited to play and could care less about the rivalry between the two schools.

            “I’ve played soccer my whole life but haven’t played since I was a freshman at Nonnewaug,” said Powell. “This is so nice. It’s very important.”

            Ask Terryville coach Tatum Sherwood about the influence of the rivalry on the cooperative effort and she dismisses it.

            “I’m only here to coach,” said Sherwood said. “The idea of the co-op is to build my program and help (Thomaston) start one. I’m happy to have them.”

            When the idea first came up, Sherwood admits the first reaction was, “Co-op with Thomaston?”

            “I told them, `Yeh, you guys need to compete for spots to get better. “I don’t see Terryville – Thomaston, I’m looking for Terryville and Thomaston and the 11 best players to win games.”

            Thomaston senior Heather Jones echoed Sherwood’s thoughts.

            ‘I don’t see this as a Thomaston-Terryville competition, I see it as a team,” said Jones. “I put on the colors to play for my team and I’m excited.”

            As with any new team the whole experiment is still a work in progress, the newness needing time, the rivalry ingrained although being shoved aside. It is strange and awkward, but both schools want to play soccer and are making it work.

            Dattilo may have said it best when she noted, “We’re both THS,” which is what it will say on the uniforms.

            There has been a little chiding on each side from teachers and a few students, but so far, so good and both sides are benefitting.    

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