On Thursday, it took on even more of an “own-backyard” type of battle on the baseball diamond.
Sonoraville coach Deron Walraven faced off against his father Charlie Walraven, the Gordon Central coach, with the son getting the better of the family battle as the Phoenix defeated their rivals, 13-3, in five innings.
Deron said it was an especially tough game for him to coach not only because of facing his father but because he spent the previous three seasons as the head coach at Gordon Central assisted by his father.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Deron. “With my dad coaching them and me being there the last three years, I wasn’t looking forward to this one. I’ll take the win and the way we played but seeing what they are going through this year, it was tough.”
Sonoraville controlled the game pretty much throughout, leading 10-0 going into the fifth inning before Gordon Central cracked the scoreboard for three runs. The Phoenix quickly responded with three runs of their own in the bottom half to end the game due to mercy rule.
Deron’s wife Andrea and other family members attended the game not really knowing who to cheer for during the family affair. Andrea, a teacher at Gordon Central, said she was anxious to see who her daughter, Ella Kate, and son, Charlie (named after his grandfather), “would yell for” as she said they both love their dad and their ‘Pop’ very much.
The elder Charlie said he wanted to win the game just as much as any other despite the family ties.
“During the game, it doesn’t make a difference, I wanted to win,” said Charlie. “I love my son, but I wanted to beat him tonight. I’ve got to give credit to him, they played well.
“I think I can honestly say that we are both relieved that this game is over now.”
Deron, who graduated from Gordon Central in 1993 before playing four years of baseball at Carson-Newman, said he owes a lot of his success as a player and coach to his dad, who will retire from coaching following the end of this season.
“He got me started in baseball,” said Deron. “He was my coach when I was younger, and he’s been a great supporter of me as a player and a coach.
“He’s been my role model, and I am what I am because of him. I hope my kids will feel about me one day the way I feel about him.”
The game on Thursday wasn’t the final time the two Walravens will meet on the diamond as Sonoraville and Gordon Central will battle one more time this season on April 17 at Gordon Central.