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East/West Set Rivalry Aside to Form Stronger Team on the Diamond

Green Bay East and West High Schools have been rivals in athletics for 100 years, but this year they joined forces on the baseball field
(WFRV-TV) -  They are honest when asked if they thought this would work.

"I didn't know a whole lot of kids at West and I was very hesitant to think that it was a good idea to do this," said Green Bay East senior Jeb Patek.

"When I first heard about it, I really did not like the idea," said Green Bay West senior Mitchell Greetan.

 And it's easy to see why baseball players from East and West weren't originally thrilled to join forces for spring baseball this season.  East vs. West is to high school sports in Green Bay what the Bears and Packers are to the NFL, rivals for a hundred years (92 years in the case of Green Bay and Chicago).

But due to low participation numbers especially at West it made sense to unite the baseball programs to better compete in the tough Fox River Classic Conference. So far the team is just 2-5, but has wins over Southwest and Preble.  Two wins may not seem like a big deal until you consider East and West combined to win just four games all of last year.

"The biggest thing is that they get to see a little success for the hard work they put in, for the sacrifices they make, for being unselfish," said East/West Head Coach Pete Bauer.  "That's the biggest thing we've talked about.  You can't think about what letters are on your name during the day, you have to come out here and work on being a better baseball player."

Bauer says at first players were weary of merging because of the increased competition for playing time.  But he says that's all changed now because the kids have taken on the challenge of working harder to earn their spots.

Of course one of the points of contention when you form a co-op is what team name and uniform you will use.

"That's everybody's big question and that was a tough, tough issue," admits Bauer.  "One of the biggest issues for all the families."

 What made it even tougher was the fact West paid for new uniforms two years ago, and East did it this past year.  In the end they settled on the Red Devils jerseys, got new hats with a a West "W" logo next to and East "E" logo, and put the other money to better use.

"Fields, facilities, equipment, and getting us where we needed to be there instead of worrying about whose name was on a jersey," said Bauer.

Bauer said the team would look into a look to feature both programs next year, but the long term hope is for these two programs to regain enough numbers and depth to go their separate ways once again.  For now, these once rivals have leaned to deal with the fact there's no "us" and "them" instead there is the "WE" that's found on their caps.

"I think now that we're together it's going to be a lot better for both sides," said Greetan.

"We want to win games, that's what it's about," added Patek.  "I don't really care who we're playing with as long as we can go out there and win."

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