PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — Take the H out of Huskies and put the M from Mustangs in its place — you have the Portage Muskies.
It’s a literal combination of students from both high schools in the city for a water polo team that otherwise wouldn’t have very many players.
“For me, it’s one of the things that really breaks the school rivalry thing,” said the boys’ water polo assistant coach Brian Smith.
He attended both high schools. He has a unique appreciation for his players’ situations.
They don’t seem to mind passing the ball to someone who would otherwise be a rival.
Connor Meyer, a student at Portage Central, says when it comes to what happens in other sports, like football, it can be kind of weird.
“Having two schools that are rivals in other sports then having a team where it’s combined, since we are such good friends, we’re like alright, do we just root for our home school or is it just whatever happens, happens?” he said.
Ewan Tiongson is his teammate but not his classmate. Tiongson attends Portage Northern High School.
“I don’t look at it as much as we are from different schools as much as we are coming here to play our sport. We’re friends, not guys from different schools,” he said.
The concept of combining schools for certain sports isn’t exactly new. Water polo hasn’t had the same participate as other sports, like football or basketball. It’s an intense sport that could be described as a mix between soccer or basketball and hockey — except in a pool.
The girls’ team plays in the spring and is also a combination of students from Central and Northern. It’s a time when they can leave the rivalry on the pool deck.
“It’s amazing, it’s the best feeling. I swim for Central as well but there’s nothing quite like counting down to a ‘three, two, one, Muskies!’. It’s the best,” Meyer said.