Though their rivalries on the field run deep, soccer players and parents from Pickerington's two high schools will unite to fight breast cancer.
Today, Friday and Monday, Sept. 5, 6 and 9, boys and girls soccer players from Pickerington High School North and Pickerington High School Central will sell pink and black bracelets, pink shoelaces and pink beads at their schools to help raise breast cancer awareness and money to research and combat the disease.
Those efforts will be a prelude to the community's anticipated Monday, Sept. 9, matchup between the schools' soccer programs.
The game recently was rescheduled to Sept. 9 to avoid conflicts for fans and students who plan to attend or watch the U.S. men's national soccer team when it plays Mexico in Crew Stadium in Columbus Tuesday, Sept. 10.
At the Sept. 9 Pickerington matches, which will begin with the boys' junior varsity teams squaring off at North at 5 p.m. and the girls' varsity squads playing at 5:30 p.m. in Panther Stadium, North boys and girls soccer parents will accept donations to fight breast cancer.
The boys reserve teams will play on a field adjacent to the stadium.
When the early games are completed, the boys varsity teams will square off in the stadium and the girls reserve teams will play on the field adjacent to the stadium.
"We felt this was the perfect opportunity to get together and do something good in the community," said Kevin Snyder, president of the North Men's Soccer Goal Club, a booster organization for North's boys soccer program.
"It's a great rivalry and probably the most attended game of the year."
Fans will be offered pink ribbons on which they can write names of loved ones affected by breast cancer. The ribbons will be tied to Panther Stadium's fence.
Proceeds from a planned 50/50 raffle during the matches also will benefit the cause, and organizers are asking students from each school for $1 donations and to abandon traditional school colors.
"We'd like to have the students at Pickerington Central pay $1 to wear white to the game and at North they'll pay $1 to wear pink," Snyder said. "Show your spirit and help support the cause."
The respective schools' varsity teams also will make symbolic gestures by donning alternate jerseys -- North will wear pink and Central will sport white -- and the teams will line up in the shape of breast cancer awareness ribbons prior to their matches.
Pamphlets about breast cancer will be distributed to spectators and names of breast cancer survivors, patients and those lost to the disease in the community will be read over stadium speakers at intermission of the boys' varsity match.
"We would certainly encourage anyone that knows anybody fighting breast cancer, who's fought breast cancer or who is a survivor to give us names as they go through the gate and we'll read their names," Snyder said.
Snyder said the North soccer programs organized the fundraisers, in part, because they have been touched by breast cancer several times throughout recent years.
He noted former Pickerington Mayor and North assistant boys soccer Coach Randy Hughes lost his wife to the disease.
Snyder's wife, Jill, is a breast cancer survivor.
"We're all fortunate to live in Pickerington, Ohio, and be as blessed as we are," Snyder said.
"As we all come together for this great rivalry, we think we should remember there's something more important than the game and come together and fight breast cancer."