Friendly foes

Principals embrace rivalry, but harbor no hard feelings
Nov. 07, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

The rivalry between Lee County High School and Southern Lee High School is fairly straightforward. They're the only two high schools in Lee County with football teams, and starting this year, they both play in the same conference.

But when it comes to their principals — both of whom are in their first year — things get a little more complicated.

Lee Senior Principal Kenna Wilson was previously principal SanLee Middle School. SanLee is literally right next door to Southern Lee, and some players on Southern's football squad — which will be facing off against Wilson's Yellow Jackets on Friday night — are former SanLee students whom she watched grow and develop throughout middle school.

Southern Lee Principal Chris Dossenbach, on the other hand, has been a Cavalier for his entire career. But he's also a 2003 graduate of Lee Senior. He said that while he's fond of both schools, his loyalties are absolute by now.

"I do [think highly of Lee Senior], but I'm full orange and blue now," he said, referring to Southern Lee's colors. "... I wish both teams the best, but I think the Cavaliers will come out on top."

In more regional rivalry games, the opposing team's respective governors, hometown newspapers or others often make bets on the game. Dossenbach said he and Wilson haven't made any wagers themselves yet, though.

Wilson didn't respond to messages left for her Tuesday and Wednesday, and none of the school's four assistant principals could be reached after school Wednesday. However, Executive Intern Crystal Colwell was in the office Wednesday afternoon and said that as far as she has seen, students aren't getting incredibly amped up for the game — which appeared to be the same as at Southern Lee, where Dossenbach said none of the clubs had been doing much specifically for the match.

Wilson did post a picture to her Twitter account Wednesday afternoon showing the project students had draped on her door, a poster with a beefed-up yellow jacket and the phrase "We Are Jacket Nation" airbrushed in gold paint. But Colwell — who graduated from Lee Senior in 1997 and is now in her first year back as an administrator-in-training — said there hasn't been much stirring up on campus otherwise.

"I really haven't heard anything about the game just walking around campus," Colwell said. "I'm sure everyone is excited, of course, because it is a big event. ... Personally, I'm actually just looking forward to seeing the game since I haven't seen the rivalry game yet."

Sports aside, Dossenbach said, he and Wilson aren't rivals and have a good professional relationship — something he said he hopes students also emulate.

"I think a friendly rivalry is a great thing on the field and on the court," Dossenbach said. "I just hope that when it's over, they leave those frustrations or disappointments on the field or court. Because most of these kids grew up together. It's like a big family."

Lee County Schools Superintendent Andy Bryan — who has previously coached high school football and basketball in Virginia — also said he thinks the rivalry is good for the community as long as it stays on the field. Unlike the two principals, though, he's not picking sides.

"I am rooting for a good, clean, competitive game," Bryan said. "As far as the football game goes, I hope everyone comes out of it healthy and that everybody does their best."

The game will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lee County High School.