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A rare back-to-back: Burke and Corsica-Stickney meet for volleyball, football doubleheader

Class B programs meet for two contests in Burke

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Fans gather in the Burke High School gym for an afternoon volleyball match between Burke and Corsica-Stickney as part of a doubleheader with football Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 in Burke. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

BURKE — The athletic programs at Burke and Corsica-Stickney gathered Thursday night to do something they’ve never done before: play volleyball and football back-to-back.

Accommodating the request to move a football game on their schedule to ease the stress of finding enough football officials, the two schools agreed to play volleyball in the late afternoon before their football game at night.

With that, a rare treat among Class B schools was on hand for fans of the Cougars and Jaguars and high school sports.

“I think it’s something that our kids are getting to enjoy, seeing both sports on the same day and getting to watch their classmates play,” Burke athletic director and football coach Mike Sebern said.

Originally, the two teams were set to play volleyball on Thursday in Corsica and then play football on Friday. But Corsica-Stickney activities director Brittany Eide and football coach Jason Broughton came up with the idea of having both events in the same place on the same night, back-to-back.

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“We thought, ‘Why not just move everything to Burke?’ We kind of suggested it and then Mike and the folks here in Burke made it work out,” Eide said.

The format got the full test on Thursday, with the Cougars and Jaguars starting around 4:30 p.m., playing a five-set match and then fans made the seven block trip to the west to Tolstedt Field for the football game. As for the result, it favored Burke in both contests, with the Cougars winning in a rousing volleyball match, and by a score of 61-18 in football.

The doubleheader with football and volleyball is more common at the college level — sometimes known as a “hike and spike” — with an afternoon football game followed by a volleyball match. In South Dakota, Class AA schools sometimes have volleyball matches lead into football when there’s long distances involved.

But it’s not often that one is scheduled purposefully, with the same pair of schools competing in the both contests.

“We figured we’d try to make it a home-and-home and see how it goes,” Sebern said. “We’ve got fans that will show up no matter when we’re playing, so it’s doable for us.”

The two schools are about 60 miles apart, close enough to make the dual-purpose trip realistic for visiting fans. Sebern said having the back-to-back events with schools that are further away might not be as feasible.

“We have parents that have kids that play in both sports, so from a travel perspective, it’s a chance to hit both,” Burke volleyball coach Billie Jo Indahl said. “It’s something that we think is worth trying. If we like it, maybe we keep doing it and if not, we won’t and that’s OK, too.”

The tentative plan is to return the favor in Corsica in 2022, provided the two teams remain on each other’s football schedules. The SDHSAA is holding a one-year classification cycle in 2021, meaning classes and schedules for football could be changed ahead of next season.

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“You feel a little more collective school spirit on a night like this,” Eide said. “It’s just a great experience. In these small towns, we live for our athletics and it’s something we can all get behind and really enjoy. And making the one trip to Burke is OK, too.”

Thursday’s doubleheader was also a chance to gather and raise money for a good cause. The Cougar Athletic Club, the organization that supports Burke High School sports, sponsored a number of fundraisers to support the family of the late Mike Tietgen.

Tietgen, 60, a supporter of Burke sports and father to two sons, died Sept. 10 after a battle with lung cancer. During the volleyball match, sponsors made donations for every Burke kill and ace, while proceeds from the concession stand went to the cause. At the football game, a pregame freewill donation tailgate event was held, a local coffee truck donated $1 for every drink purchased and the typical 50/50 drawings and the halftime football throw raised funds for the cause.

“It is a terrific family and one that we’re really happy to be supporting because it’s been a tough few months for them,” Indahl said.

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The Burke High School volleyball team takes a photo with Rochelle Tietgen, the wife of the late Mike Tietgen, following a high school volleyball match Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021 in Burke. The events surrounding the volleyball-football doubleheader raised funds to support the Tietgen family. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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