LOUISVILLE, Ohio — The Louisville Leopards and the Northwest Indians were once one of the fiercest rivals of Stark County high school athletics.
When Northwest departed the Northeastern Buckeye Conference (NBC) after the 2010 season it put the rivalry on the back burner. After more than a decade-long hiatus, it was rekindled this season.
“Back about a decade ago, Northwest and Louisville had some pretty heated rivalries,” said Garry Tausch, principal at Louisville High School. “Not only in football but in wrestling, and basketball.”
Tausch has a unique role in the reignited rivalry, and not just as the person in charge of the participants. His identical twin brother Larry Tausch is the principal at Northwest High School.
“I would’ve never imagined doing what I’m doing right now,” Garry Tausch said. “Our lives being as parallel as they are. I never thought it would end up like this.”
When the pair looked at the upcoming football schedule over the summer and saw a week three matchup at Northwest High School, they immediately circled it. As twins do, they had their minds in the same place.
“Any of the stories that you hear about how some twins would switch classes, it’s safe to say that we might have participated in that. It’s true and it all happened,” Tausch said.
So what would they do to commemorate the occasion? For a set of twins as ornery as the Tausch brothers, their plan for how they celebrated the game and the reborn rivalry had to be unique.
“It aggravates the wives. Because we finish each other's thoughts. We know what each other is thinking,” Larry Tausch said. “It’s nonstop hilarity With us being twins, it’s accelerant on the fire.”
The pair introduced themselves in a video broadcast to the student body of both schools. Only the students were unaware that their principal had an identical twin.
“I introduced myself as Principal Tausch at Northwest,” Tausch said. “Then all of the sudden he popped into the camera and heads exploded. Just as we would predict.”
“They actually thought it was CGI,” Garry Tausch said. “They couldn’t believe there were two of us.”
From there, the two drummed up a competition both on and off the field.
“It was Military Appreciation night. And how can we give back the veterans and make the night even more special,” Tausch said.
Insert social media and a little trend called tabletop surfing. Pretty standard stuff for a pair of identical educators. The two also kickstarted a coin race to raise money for homeless veterans through Sub Zero Mission.
“One of my counselors sent us a video and said we need to do this in a pep rally,” Larry Tausch said. “I said ‘ In a pep rally? We’re doing it on the 50-yard line!’”
While Louisville took home the win on the football field and tabletop surfing competition, Northwest won the change battle, raising the most money for Sub Zero Mission. To the victor go the spoils, and a homemade trophy retrofitted with a piggybank was painted red for Northwest.
“The pig is going to stay red for a year. And then next year when we win the change battle, we can paint it blue,” Garry Tausch said.
Regardless of the score, funds raised, or outcome of the surfing competition, everyone was a clear winner. What started as a renewed rivalry on the football field evolved into an event that connected the community and perhaps most importantly, their students.
“To have a principal that’s involved with the student body, actively. It’s actually really nice,” said Evan Pape. “It makes it fun to show up and be involved in school.”
The twins said friends from as far away as Indiana made the trip to Ohio for the game and halftime surfing competition. They never expected it to take off as much as it did and raised nearly $4,000 for Sub Zero mission.
The plan is to run it back next year and the students couldn’t be more excited.
“The whole week we were building up to this game with Northwest and then the halftime, we won,” Olivia Marcantonio said. “It was so much fun. It was definitely a highlight of this year so far.”