COLUMBIA — It’s not uncommon for members of Hickman and Rock Bridge High School athletic teams to be familiar with each other, and in some cases be friends.
Rock Bridge senior volleyball player Katelyn Race is friends with Chloe Kome, Ali Baxter and Samantha Nielsen, the seniors on Hickman’s team, because she played with them at West Junior High School.
Hickman (2-19-2) vs. Rock Bridge (13-8-1)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Arena at Southwell Complex, Columbia College
“We all played together in our freshman year,” Race said. “All of us for the most part kind of had a late start in learning the game, so I feel we all bonded over that at West.”
Race has since transferred to Rock Bridge, but still remains friends with her former teammates. Race and Kome have become particularly good friends thanks in part to playing on the same club team in Race’s first year.
“Chloe was my setter, and we have remained good friends over our high school years,” Kome said. “We will see each other at the mall and aren’t like 'Oh you are from Hickman,' but rather we are like 'Hey, what’s up?'"
Race will meet up with her former teammates when Hickman and Rock Bridge play at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Columbia College.
It will be senior night for both teams, and the Hickman seniors have never beaten Rock Bridge on the varsity level. Wednesday marks their last chance during the regular season to beat their rivals.
“Sometimes it is a disadvantage to have the mindset that we have beaten them every time,” Race said. "If you are cocky, then you can get caught off guard and lose points quickly.”
Race smiles when admitting that there is a little back and forth between the two teams. However, she is quick to point out that it is all good natured and doesn’t ever get out of hand.
“Since I know them all the seniors personally, there is definitely some trash talk going on between us,” Race said. “But it’s always us just joking around.”
Fellow Bruins senior Yonne Nasimiyu is new to the Rock Bridge-Hickman rivalry because she transferred here from a school in St. Louis. That doesn’t mean her teammates haven’t filled her in.
“I see the way that my teammates get excited to play Hickman,” Nasimiyu said. “Now, I want to beat them just as much as the other girls do.”
While Race acknowledges that Wednesday’s game is significant, it isn’t something that will define her high school career.
“Before my senior year this rivalry was all about bragging rights,” Race said. “But this year, I am more focused on winning districts and figuring out my plans for next year. Playing college ball is something Chloe and I talk about a lot.”
Once colleges she was interested in figured out Race was a volleyball player, they asked her to send in a video of her playing.
“Both of my parents were first generation college students, everyone before that was farming,” Race said. “I really want to play volleyball in college, and I want to be the next step. I don’t want to gain the freshman 15 or anything like that."
Supervisory editor is Grant Hodder.