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BJU Bruins contend with rivals, promote sportmanship

As the fall season ramps up for Bruins athletics, many fans look forward to the team’s rivalry matches with other colleges, from Toccoa to Pensacola and from Trinity Baptist to Columbia International.

In soccer, the men’s team considers Pensacola Christian College and Trinity Baptist College as rivals.

Photo: Prince Sarnicula

Coach Greg Fulton, the new head coach of the team, said the games against Trinity Baptist are just as physical as the PCC games. “Any time any game gets physical, there’s expectation for guys,” he said. “There’s the hope they rise above [reacting]. … We still got to match aggression, we got to make sure we’re not giving up ground when it comes to a physical match.”

Against Trinity Baptist, a Florida college, the Bruins have logged six wins, three losses and two ties since first playing them in 2016. The last match played was a dominant 4-0 victory for the men’s team.

PCC is a name many students will recognize as the Bruins’ main rival, especially in soccer. Since the 2012 season, both schools have created a historic rivalry where games often end in close finishes.

Fulton said the team does not do anything out of the ordinary when preparing for big games. “Routine is king,” he said. “We want guys to be comfortable and consistent. We have to be the same team we’ve been all year because that’s what made us successful.”

Photo: Prince Sarnicula

The overall record between PCC and the Bruins is three games won to five, in favor of Pensacola. However, the Bruins enjoyed a 2-1 victory in the most recent match between the schools, their first win at PCC’s Florida campus in program history. The Bruins currently have a two-game winning streak in the series.

The women’s volleyball team has also had a continued rivalry with PCC and Toccoa Falls.

With the continued success of the volleyball team, it could be tempting for the Bruins not to take their rivals seriously. However, Coach Vickie Denny, the team’s head coach, said her players do not take anything for granted when playing either team.

“To me, the Toccoa Falls game is just as important because in a normal year, the three of us will be vying for the championship for regionals,” she said. “Pensacola and Toccoa went to five [sets] already this year so they’re really close.”

Denny said that a win against either team is always a goal for her players. “There’s a sense where we want to beat Pensacola every time we face them,” she said. “To just focus on that wouldn’t be wise, but it’s definitely one of their personal goals because they know people at Pensacola.”

The golf team’s primary challenger is Columbia International University in South Carolina.

Coach Dennis Scott said that sports, especially in the game of golf, is as much mental as it is physical.

Photo: Lindsay Shaleen

“There’s a physical aspect … but then the game of golf is played a lot in inches— between six to seven inches between your ears,” he said. “The mental side of things is really a major part of the game.”

Scott said each player on the team even has score card holders that have “Next shot” on the bottom to remind them to not worry about any mistakes they have made during a tournament.

Scott emphasized that even though the course matches against Columbia International are often close and back and forth, there is a sense of mutual appreciation and respect for the shared experience.

“I think it’s more partnership than sportsmanship,” he said. “Sportsmanship is like an external compliance with an expected behavior; partnership is internal. I appreciate and respect my opponent who brings out the best in me, to reach my full potential.”

While the atmosphere at a Bruins game is normally quite entertaining, during a match against a rival university, the environment becomes electric.