Edmonds Community College athletic director Spencer Stark (left) and Everett Community College athletic director Garet Studer hold the “T” Trophy at Everett Community College on Thursday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Edmonds Community College athletic director Spencer Stark (left) and Everett Community College athletic director Garet Studer hold the “T” Trophy at Everett Community College on Thursday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

‘T’ Trophy gives extra juice to local NWAC rivalry

Their campuses? Separated by just 17 miles.

Their sports teams? Often adjacent to one another in the standings.

Their coaches? Usually recruiting the same players.

Their mascots? Sharing a first letter.

Get ready Snohomish County. The sports rivalry between the county’s two community colleges was just injected with a heavy dose of vitamin T.

Everett Community College and Edmonds Community College have long been rivals in the Northwest Athletic Conference’s North Region. However, the schools have something new to play for in 2018-19 with the introduction of the “T” Trophy.

The “T” Trophy is a new competition between the two schools. Named for the schools’ mascots (Everett’s Trojans and Edmonds’ Tritons), the trophy will be awarded at the end of the school year to the school that wins the most head-to-head meetings across all team sports. It’s adding some extra juice to what’s a natural rivalry.

“There are some rivalries within NWAC, but they’re not really publicized outside the confines of the athletic departments,” Everett athletic director Garet Studer said. “Rivalries are fun. I think it’s a good way to engage the campuses and the community members.”

The competition for the inaugural “T” Trophy began at the start of the school year. However, the actual trophy wasn’t delivered until late November. Therefore, Saturday’s basketball doubleheader between the Tritons and Trojans at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center on the campus of Everett CC is the first time the schools will meet having had a glimpse of the trophy.

“It looks good,” Studer said. “It’s got three tiers to it, plenty of space for I think almost 20 years that we can put on there before we have to get another tier or maybe a new base. You always see those trophy cases that have trophies since the 1940s. This is one of those things Spencer (Stark, Edmonds’ athletic director) and I hope stays a lasting tradition like that.”

The “T” Trophy is the brainchild of Studer and Stark, who are relatively new in their positions as both were hired as athletic directors in 2017. Looking for a new way to promote their programs, they drew inspiration from the schools’ baseball teams. The Edmonds and Everett baseball programs have traditionally been the strongest at each school, often going toe-to-toe for North Region supremacy as both have claimed NWAC championships since 2013. Therefore, Edmonds baseball coach Scott Kelly and former Everett baseball coach Levi Lacey came up with an informal “T” Cup for whichever team won the season series.

Studer and Stark latched onto that idea and brought it to the entire athletic departments.

“The trophy puts something tangible to the rivalry,” Studer said. “It’s always fun to have those bragging rights, and this is just that culmination. When you play a season and win a championship there’s a trophy at the end that puts a capstone on the season. As far as the rivalry is concerned, I foresee the ‘T’ Trophy doing the same thing.”

Every regular season game between the schools across seven team sports — volleyball and women’s and men’s soccer in the fall, women’s and men’s basketball in the winter, softball and baseball in the spring — will count toward the standings. Postseason meetings will only be used as a tiebreaker.

The schools have tended to be well matched in the past, and when Studer and Stark compiled the results from last season that proved to be the case again as Everett prevailed by the narrowest of possible margins, 11-9.

A page has been set up on the Everett athletics website to explain the “T” Trophy and track the results. So far Edmonds leads 6-2, with the Tritons going 3-0 in women’s soccer and 2-0 in volleyball, while the Trojans went 2-1 in men’s soccer. Twelve meetings remain, beginning with Saturday’s basketball games.

“I think we’re in a good position,” Stark said. “I think our women’s basketball team the last couple years has slowly built itself up; men’s basketball and baseball are always tough, I expect all those games to be really competitive; softball is a toss-up, too. I’m happy to have an early lead. I think it will play out pretty evenly after that.”

Studer and Stark know the challenges that come with community college athletics. It can be difficult building a sense of campus pride in athletic teams at community colleges. The students are only there for two years, and many of them are commuters who are only on campus for their classes.

With the “T” Trophy, they’re taking a step toward changing that.

“I know our school is starting to rally behind it,” Stark said. “I’ve talked to other departments on campus — student engagement and leadership, marketing — about doing things to promote it.

“My whole goal, even with this, is I want people in the community to realize junior college athletics is a good level of ball. If you look at the number of players we move on (to four-year schools), even if they’re just moving on for school, you see how it impacts the athletes’ lives. It’s a positive thing in the community.”

Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.

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