The collegiate battle of Alberta

By Melissa Gervais

The most storied rivalry in Alberta is Edmonton versus Calgary. It’s the Stampeders, Flames and Roughnecks against the Eskimos, Oilers and Rush.

Rivalries are most commonly geographical by nature but can be fuelled by a botched call, a bad trade or a dose of trash talking. Competitive sports of all types have healthy rivalries that make the games more exciting — professional sports leagues are not the only place that host gritty rivalries.

The University of Calgary assistant athletic Director Ben Matchett said the battle of Alberta is alive at the post-secondary level.

“It’s historical and always a good time when the Dinos and the Pandas or Bears get together,” said Matchett.

The University of Calgary emerged as an independent institution in 1966 when it ceased to be a branch of the University of Alberta, as had been the case since 1945. Both Matchett and his U of A counterpart Matt Gutsch agreed that the intra-provincial rivalry gained prominence after the 1966 codification of a separate collegiate institution.

Gutsch explained the rivalry from an Edmontonian perspective: “It’s one of those long-standing things. It’s as old as anyone can remember and I expect it to be around long after any one of us is around. That’s for sure.”

Gutsch and Matchett both maintain that this rivalry is friendly and somewhat familial.

“I think it’s vital to have rivalries like that. Those are the big games everyone gets pumped up for, especially the fans and the students,” Matchett added. “You always want to prove your school or team is better than the other school or team. It happens everywhere.”

Dinos women’s basketball associate coach Claire Mitton said fans are important to project the rivalry.

“Fan support is huge. They are the extra player when competing,” she said. “Showing up in the team’s colours is great.”

When the U of C heads north, a raucous crowd awaits. The same can be said when the U of A comes to Calgary on a road trip. The CIS edition of the battle of Alberta shows that the Calgary versus Edmonton rivalry is alive and well.

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