Prior to the 2019-20 athletic season, Goshen College and Bethel University implemented the U.S. Highway 20 Cup. It’s a full-sport competition between the programs, who compete for 16 total points (one for each sport). In each of the first four years, Bethel easily bested Goshen. This year, the score is 7.75-4.75 in Bethel’s favor, which means that Goshen has a shot to win. 

Sure, it’s a long shot. But 4.75 is the most points Goshen has ever recorded in the competition, and a clean sweep of the remaining schedule (including two men’s volleyball games, two softball games and men’s and women’s track meets) would secure the Cup.

Since 1981, Goshen and Bethel have been rivals in the Crossroads League. Separated by a mere 27 miles on Highway 20, games between the two seem to hold an added importance.

According to Eric Pettipiece, a senior on the baseball team, “It’s usually [a] pretty competitive series. Having the named rivalry, it kind of automatically puts more pressure onto the players to perform, which makes it a lot of fun to compete in those games.”

Goshen and Bethel baseball teams play one another yearly in a grouped four-game series; those four games can be an important swing in the season. This year, Goshen was able to take three of the four games. Trent Sillett, a junior, spoke to the Highway 20 Cup playing a role in the team’s motivation for the series:

“Even my first year here,” he said, “ … when we got to that week in our schedule where Bethel came up, it was like, all right, we [can] really kind of take control and we can … do something outside of just our team, but for … athletics in general.”

Stephanie Miller, women’s basketball coach, said, “There’s a history between the teams, some good, some not. … There is a mutual respect for the opponent, but also a really heightened desire to get that win competitively, [for] bragging rights for the Highway 20 Cup, but also just being so close, it’s an important win in an important series for each team.”

The rivalry between the two schools extends beyond the field; it also has an influence on recruiting.

“You are competing… for recruits,” Justin DeWeese, assistant athletic director said, “and sometimes you even see a transfer that was at [Bethel] that is now at Goshen, or sometimes the other way around. So it’s nice if you get someone from their backyard, if you get a Mishawaka recruit. At the same time, it kind of stings when a team comes in here and you look at their roster and they have players that are from Goshen.”

There is not (as of yet) a physical trophy passed between the teams. Since it is an all-sports award, however, the Highway 20 Cup serves as a year-to-year marker of how  Goshen’s athletic department as a whole is performing. A closer outcome this year speaks to the improvement of GC athletics, specifically in softball and baseball. At the end of the day, it’s just nice to have a rival.

“Every good athletic program has a rival or two where the games just mean more,” Miller said. “And if you come to a game between Goshen and Bethel, or between Goshen and Grace, those two games are just different. It brings an edge and a heightened excitement, an energy in the crowd. Fans tend to come out, families tend to come out … for good or bad, it gets everybody riled up, and I like that.”