The conflicting loyalties of a sports editor

Published on November 7, 2013 in the Charles City Press

I have seen the enemy and he is me.

Not literally, you understand, but as fans from Charles City and Cedar Rapids Xavier descend on the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena for their first round match up in the state volleyball tournament at 6 p.m. today, I can identify with the legions of blue and silver.

As a 2006 Xavier graduate, I have many happy memories within the walls of Xavier High School, where I spent four of the most care free years of my life.

I walked the same halls and learned from many of the same teachers as the Comets' opposition.

I won an intramural basketball championship, I sang and danced at school assemblies, I prayed and took communion at Mass and I gave Sarah Black a rose and walked her under the arch as a member of the prom court at my senior prom. All this and so much more took place in the same gym where the Saints play their home volleyball games.

I know the older siblings of two of the players, and I expect my cousin Nicole, a sophomore at Xavier, will be cheering from the student section. In the stands will sit some of my oldest friends and most influential mentors, and they will all be screaming for the Saints.

If this game had taken place seven years ago, I would be right there with them, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the face-painted-navy-clad crazies screaming at the top of my lungs and urging Xavier on to an upset of the state's top team in Class 4A.

It isn't 2005 though, and time truly changes everything.

When play starts in Cedar Rapids I will be standing on the sidelines, camera in hand, covering the Charles City Comets. While it is tacky for a member of the press to cheer at a sporting event, I will certainly be rooting against my alma mater on the inside.

I haven't seen a lot of volleyball matches in my life. Yes, I went to a handful of them when I was in high school, but Xavier wasn't very good back then. I also covered four 1A teams in Keokuk County last year, but none of them were very good either.

It was the 2012 Charles City Comets that showed me what a high school volleyball team is supposed to look like.

How can I not cheer for the Comets after witnessing the team's relentless work ethic and determination all year long?

How can I not cheer for the Comets after standing on the floor of the Humboldt High School gym, still warm with the excitement and exertion of the game, with chills running down my back as the Comets student section barreled toward the team in unchecked mirth after it qualified for the state tournament?

How can I not cheer for the Comets when the only thing bigger than the hits from Jessie Sindliger and Jackie Foster are their smiles and genuine glee after making a good play?

The 17 year-old version of myself might call me a turncoat, a traitor, a Benedict Arnold.

I don't care.

Go Charles City... and here comes the hard part... beat Xavier!

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