(DOTHAN)--Rivalries always add a little something extra in sports. Whether it's Alabama vs. Auburn, Redskins vs. Cowboys or Red Sox vs. Yankees, the passion of the game from both fans and players alike is heightened with rivalry.
Locally, Houston Academy vs. Providence Christian has been a great example of an intense rivalry. This year, the two rivals decided to team up with one cause in mind: Supporting our troops.
Friday evening, at Providence Christian, these two will square off in the inaugural Bojangles "Hits for Heroes" game. Eagles head coach Nick Collins coached at Houston Academy two seasons ago and understands the intensity behind the rivalry.
He says being able to combine the passion of the rivalry with the ability to give back to those that serve our country is a benefit not only to players, but to the community as a whole.
"Hits for Heroes is an idea that people from both schools came up with," said Collins.
"All the proceeds from Hits for Heroes are going to benefit the USO program and more specifically the USO Care Package program for our military overseas," he said.
Houston Academy Athletic Director Jim Robbins has been helping to organize fundraisers through baseball dating back to his coaching days at Ashford High School. Collins says Robbins is the mastermind behind the "Hits for Heroes" program.
"When I was at Ashford we used to do a "Marathon Game" or "100 innings Games" where players would play from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. at night. We'd just put a pitching machine on the mound and rotate players in and out from two schools, now because of AHSAA rules we can't do that," said Robbins.
"This is just a great way to be able to give back to those who are protecting our freedoms overseas and allowing us to play the game of baseball," he said.
The "Hits for Hereos" game directly impacts Providence Christian junior Jacob Cowie. Cowie's father is a pilot serving overseas. For Cowie this year's game is personal.
"It means a lot actually, to me I mean, to be able to help out people like my Dad and then help out my Dad, who's overseas in Afghanistan right now," said Cowie.
Cowie's teammates realize the bigger picture when it comes to a fundraiser like "Hits for Heroes."
Seniors Riley Grantham and Quinton Snellgrove know there's added motivation behind the rivalry game with Cowie's Dad being overseas.
"His Dad being over there, it really makes it personal to us that we're doing it for a good cause," said Grantham.
"We know we get to go out and play the game of baseball thanks to military overseas fighting for us so it's great to be able to do something for them in return," said Snellgrove.
This is the first "Hits for Heroes" game but Robbins and others hope it won't be the last.
"We're talking with the City of Dothan as well as surrounding schools, and even schools from Florida to see if they'd want to participate in the years to come," said Robbins.
He added, "We've gotten a lot of interest so far so hopeful this event will only grow in the years to come," he said.
Providence Christian will host Houston Academy Friday at 6 p.m. The two will play Saturday at noon at Northcutt field.
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