By: Anton Richardson '18
BEREA, Ohio -- The rivalry between Baldwin Wallace University and John Carroll University is arguably the most underrated, enticing, black and blue battle known in the Ohio Athletic Conference. When these two schools clash together on the gridiron, the court, or even on the track, records and accomplishments seem to hold no importance.
Alumnus, fans, coaches, and the players on both sides of the spectrum always give a little more effort when it is time to meet their beloved foes. Even though these historic colleges reside in the same county, Cuyahoga County, play in the same conference, the OAC, and annually produce an abundance of talent in the classroom and on the field, court, or track; the connection between these two schools does not stop there.
So, when the Yellow Jacket men (10-11, 5-9 OAC) host the Blue Streak men tonight at the Rudolph Ursprung Gymnasium at 7 p.m. and the BW women (17-4, 10-4 OAC) travel to University Heights to play the JCU women in the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center at 7:30 p.m. there will be familiar names broadcast across both public address systems.
The BW men's basketball team is extremely young in terms of its student-athletes and coaches, including freshman guard Michael Quiring (Brunswick) and freshman forward Tyler Colombo (Strasburg/Tuscarawas Central Catholic). But those last names are not new to BW or even JCU basketball.
Michael Quiring and Tyler Colombo also are roommates and key first-year student-athletes for second-year Head Coach Tom Heil's men's team. Their sisters have either played for Head Coach Cheri Harrer or are currently playing for her. Quiring's sister, Rachel, a basketball standout and two-time Academic All-Ohio Athletic Conference point guard, graduated in 2009. Tyler's sister Mackenzie Colombo (Strasburg), an All-OAC and Academic All-OAC point guard, is a current senior on BW's women team.
While the Quiring trademark has been stamped at BW, the name Colombo and Clark has some historical ties to BW's cross-town rival.
Mackenzie and Tyler are both playing at the same school. The Colombo's uncle, John Colombo, played for and graduated from JCU. At JCU, John broke several records, is still the school's second all-time leading scorer, had his jersey retired, was drafted and eventually went on to play for the hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA (National Basketball Association). While John went to JCU, one of his closest friends was Bernie Clark, the father of current BW senior two-time All-OAC and Academic All-OAC forward Sydney Clark (Parma/ Lake Ridge Academy).
"I had no problem with Sydney going to BW," said Bernie Clark. "I know she is getting a good education."
Sydney Clark and Mackenzie Colombo are roommates, best friends and two of the top student-athletes in the OAC. See the connection? Tyler and Mackenzie's, grandfather, John Colombo said, "They have a sister-bond," when asked about the relationship between Sydney and Mackenzie.
This strong bond between the duo can be seen on the court as well. Coach Harrer stated, "The team follows Sydney and Mackenzie. If the other players on the team see them playing hard, they will feed off that and they play that much harder."
To date, Mackenzie Colombo tops the team in scoring at 12.0 points-per-game and with 78 assists and 38 steals. Sydney Clark is second at 10.7 ppg. and has a team-leading 27 blocked shots. She is perhaps the most versatile player in the OAC.
Michael Quiring, who has played in all 22 games this season, including five starts, is averaging 7.0 ppg. and is second with 34 three-pointers. He also is second with 51 assists. Tyler Colombo, who has played in all 21 games, including starting seven games, is scoring 3.9 ppg., grabbing 2.8 rebounds-per-game and has a trio of triples.
It is rather unique the way in which Tyler and Mike became roommates or was this some type of coincidence or karma? Or just a fine line between destiny and faith. Both decided to come to BW at the last minute.
"We just paired them up," said Coach Heil, who returned to BW last winter from Defiance College and led the team to a 16-11 record. "They're one of the cooler relationships on the team."
Mackenzie Colombo, who rarely gets to see her brother play, because the BW women are usually playing opposite the BW men (if the men play at home, the women play away, and vice versa), got a rare chance on January 14 when the BW men beat OAC-rival Otterbein University, 76-61, in Berea. A night earlier, Mackenzie led the women to a 68-58 win in Westerville.
Tyler and Mike each are held to a higher standard by themselves, their coaches, and even their sisters, but that doesn't really bother either of them. "I don't feel pressured to live up to the standards my sister has set," said Tyler. "Mackenzie is my role model, and she would the first one to tell me to just be myself."
The Colombo's parents are stuck with the dilemma of who to watch on game days, either Tyler or Mackenzie.
"We try to make it to each game watch them both play, but it is hard because they both play on the same day and one is either home and the other is away," said Craig Colombo, the father of both Tyler and Mackenzie, who also briefly attended JCU. "So, consequently, I go in one direction to one game, and my wife [Wendy] goes in another direction to the other game."
"I am proud of both them," said Craig Colombo, who was more than okay with his children attending BW even though he started at JCU and his brother played for the Blue Streaks. "It was a good choice for each them to come here and they are having a great experience and are very happy to be at BW."
In Sydney Clark's four years at BW, her view on a lot of things grew and expanded. When asked why she picked BW.
"I received a scholarship to play for Walsh University, but the coach suddenly left, so I changed my mind," said Clark, a public relations major who has been a Student Fellow at the Center of Innovation & Growth. "I wanted to go to a school that was close to home, and BW definitely has been the right choice for me."
Mackenzie Colombo just loves BW and has some advice for prospective student-athletes
"It has been four years of the best years of my life," said Colombo, a communication and speech disorders major who was the Most Valuable Player and helped BW to win the inaugural BW Holiday Invitational Tournament in late December. "I am getting a great education at BW. I have met my best friends here. And, we have a winning program that every year has an opportunity to win a national title."
Despite the JCU connections for the Colombo's and Clark, Tyler, Sydney and Mackenzie were not recruited by John Carroll, but Michael Quiring was briefly before his senior year in high school.
"JCU was interested but never really pursued me hard enough to make me become a Blue Streak," said Quiring, a finance major. "So, it has become somewhat of an additional motivating factor for me each time we play JCU."
"This is a rivalry game," said Mackenzie Colombo. "It's BW versus JCU, JCU versus BW. A cross-town rivalry with lots of connections and emotions. It is game we definitely look forward to. We respect them as an opponent and OAC member, but we want to beat them probably as much as anyone else in the conference."