PLU v. UPS: A rivalry built from culture

by Genny Boots, News Writer

Ten miles separate Pacific Lutheran University and University of Puget Sound, but apparently the separation pertains to much more than sharing a city.

“Everyone at UPS hates people from PLU,” UPS senior Kenji Senkito said, “or so they say.”
Methodist and Lutheran, North End Tacoma and Parkland, intellects and dumb jocks, all shape up to the Loggers versus the Lutes. These exaggerated stereotypes and “us-versus-them” mentality are nothing new for a cross-town rivalry. The relations between UPS and PLU have been smoldering for years on the fields, courts and in the stands.
The rivalry is a story that has graced the plots of movies, television shows and annals of history. PLU and UPS certainly fit the bill. Located about 10 miles from each other, the origin of the rivalry is attributed to proximity.

“It’s a regional rivalry, two small D-III schools battling it out for top dog in Tacoma, trying to find their niche,” UPS senior Reilyn Garton said.
However, the back and forth between the two schools is rooted more in their similarities than differences. Both have similar student populations and demographics. They are both liberal arts universities in the Pacific Northwest and the Loggers appeal to the same application pool as the Lutes.

Many of the athletes playing at either school were recruited by the other because the schools share the same high school athletes to pick and choose from. Those who are from the area have friends and former teammates that play for both schools. This makes for intense and highly anticipated athletic match-ups.

The most recent UPS and PLU face-off was Oct. 29 when the women’s soccer teams played a heated game at PLU. The teams battled for first place in conference and the Lutes took the victory. This game marked the first time women’s soccer has beat UPS since the 1980s.

“One of the reasons it’s such a rivalry is because we are two of the better teams,” PLU head soccer coach John Yorke said. “When it’s your natural rival, the proximity of the schools, and with two very good programs who beat each other makes it an intense game.” In most years, the Lutes and the Loggers battle each other for the conference championship.
The next time UPS and PLU meet will be on the football field Nov. 11. The Lutes have been nearly undefeated against UPS since 1988, losing once in 2005. This hasn’t stopped the Loggers in their hopes to beat PLU.

“For our summer practice jerseys we put the date of our PLU game on the front. We get really prepared for it,” UPS sophomore Steven Branham said. Branham said there has been animosity between the two teams.

“Every year we play for the Tacoma Totem Pole, but [the PLU] coach won’t even bring it out anymore,” Branham said.
The rivalries between all athletic teams is under the context of friendly competition.

“At the end of the day these are friends from across town that we respect and love getting to know,” Aaron Steelquist, PLU ultimate frisbee alumnus current Programs Director said about his years playing against UPS.
Beyond the athletic sphere, the rivalry begins to falter.

“I mean I don’t really care … I don’t think about it that much,” PLU senior Lucas Sontra said. “I was interested in going there, so I don’t have any beef with them. It’s a good school.”

The 125-year shared history between the universities makes the rivalry an old tradition, but one that is fostered in a culture of respect and friendship.

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