The 39-year rivalry between Temple and the University of Pennsylvania in women’s gymnastics has always been highly competitive, but there is more respect than bad blood between the two teams.
“It’s a friendly rivalry,” coach Aaron Murphy said. “I give them a whole lot of support when they are out there.”
Both being in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference, the two teams know each other well.
“We are always competing since we are in the same conference, but it’s a friendly rivalry,” Penn coach John Ceralde said.
Since 2000, the two teams have met 29 times in several different types of competitions. The Quakers have gotten the better of the Owls during that time, with a head-to-head record of 19-10.
In championship history, there is a big disparity between the two teams, as the Quakers have won the ECAC conference title four times, including the last two years. The Owls are still searching for their first conference title.
Coaching has not been the problem for the Owls, as Murphy has been named ECAC coach of the year in 2009 and 2013. Murphy said he does not allow the competition to change his game plans.
“We try to make sure that every meet we go into, we are going to handle the same way whether it’s a conference rival or somebody like Maryland that is not in our conference anymore,” said Murphy.
Murphy said he is very involved in assisting his team throughout their routines, but he said keeping an eye on his opponent is something he cannot resist.
“As a coach I think we are always going to look at the other teams a little bit,” Murphy said. “I try not to because I do want to see what my girls are doing because that way if anything wrong happens I can help them back in the gym to correct it. But I have one eye that wonders off and I am checking out what the other team is doing too.”
During the competition, the opposing teams stay silent when passing each other to go to their respective stations. The seriousness of the meet does not totally take over them as they are also supportive of each other. At the end of the competition the teams high-five and hug each other regardless of the outcome.
With the Owls and Quakers just over five miles apart the Philadelphia rivals still like to claim bragging rights.
“Since my freshman year we have also been close in competition and last year they won the conference so to beat them today was pretty awesome,” senior Brianna Ferdinandi said.
Stephen Godwin can be reached at email@example.com.