For members of the Black Hills Rapids under-15 Burgundy club soccer team, during the summer there is only one color that matters.

It's one color on the team's jersey as the players hope to work with each other to improve not only for the high school season, but hopefully be noticed by colleges.

It is during that high school season, however, when allegiances and goals completely change.

Most of the players on the team play for different area high school teams. Jackson Fairchild plays for Rapid City Central, while the guy he takes shots on in practice, Shawn Bauer, plays for cross-town rival Rapid City Stevens.

It isn't just Bauer, but Zack Williams also suits up for the Raiders.

The rivalries might seem intense, but Bauer said it can make club practices more interesting, and in the end, the rivalries are all in good fun.

Every Cobbler and Raider can put their differences aside, especially when there's a championship on the line in the summer.

The team currently leads Pool A in the U15 Division with a 2-0 record and one game to go in pool play of the Rushmore Cup Tournament out at the Dakota Fields.

After topping Magic Celtic FC 04 in the first game of a Saturday doubleheader 5-0, it topped United SC Premier 2004 4-0 in the second game.

Fairchild said even though he's reminded Stevens players about Central's 3-2 win in September over the Raiders, it's a team that has come together and is trying to win the Rushmore Cup.

"They’re friendly rivalries. Let’s say you go to high school and you play and you bond with that team, and then you see people you know from your club team you can say, 'These are this person’s strengths, so let’s push them this way. We try to play to their weaknesses," he said. "It’s fun because when we see them later we like to talk about it."

St. Thomas More also has some representation on the team, as Aaron Lemon agreed that if a club teammate takes a loss during the season, they soon won't forget about it.

"It’s fun to go and beat your friends, and then you tease them later about it," he said laughing.

The difference between playing high school and playing club isn't only that Raiders, Cobblers and Cavaliers are playing together, but the level of competition not only helps players during the high school season. It's also about individual player development.

"In high school you could have that one player that can do it all because some people don’t play club soccer," Fairchild said. "In club you play teams from out-of-state with technical and tactical abilities that are harder to work against. In high school sometimes it’s easier to see how things break down.

"In high school they’re more aggressive with you because they’re a lot older, but then when you come back to that club you should bring that spirit, you bring everyone up so everyone works harder."

It can also help simulate the pressure of the big game moments that come in October for the high school teams that are good enough to make it that far.

"I think it simulates the playoffs and the state finals," Bauer said. "It depends on what you do (when you play club), and this (The Rushmore Cup) is a tournament that puts a lot of great competition in front of you."

Williams said at times players can be absorbed by school spirit and all the fans in the stands during the high school season.

The summer club season is a chance for a player to work with other players their age and develop that way.

"It’s about working with yourself, working with others and improving each other. I think it’s helpful," Williams said. "In high school you only play in the state, but with club you can play all across the country, other countries, you get a lot more competition out there."

The Burgundy team will conclude pool play with a matchup with BU Pink, a win would clinch a spot in the championship game.

Pool matches begin from the Dakota Fields Soccer Complex, Sioux Park and Mountain View Field at 8 a.m.

Following pool play, semifinals and championship games have been scheduled beginning at 12:30 p.m. and will continue throughout the day.

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Contact Geoff Preston at geoffrey.preston@rapidcityjournal.com

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