Harbinger residents Roy Kopp and Chuck Baechler are neighbors, friends and rivals. Roy’s heart beats for Penn State and Chuck’s loyalty belongs to Ohio State. Both football teams are part of the Big Ten Conference, one of the most competitive collegiate athletic conferences in the United States, and the two schools are known to be major competitors. Chuck and Roy’s bond blends friendship and spirited rivalry.
Chuck and Roy met when they sat at the same table one evening for dinner. During their conversation, Chuck mentioned that he had graduated from Ohio State. “You should have seen the look on Roy’s face when I said that. I thought he was going to come at me from across the and I had no idea why!” At the time, Chuck didn’t know Roy was a Penn State fan. Both men smiled at the memory. The two talked about football and a close friendship was formed.
Roy didn’t attend Penn State, his career was spent in construction in Philadelphia. However, his allegiance to Penn State has been unwavering. Penn State coach Joe Paterno (1966-2011 term) had an impact on Roy. “He was a great coach and cared about his players, he was a good example.” Roy’s granddaughter did attend the school and that made their relationship even more significant.
Chuck graduated from Ohio State, so Buckeye blood runs thick in him. “I graduated from Ohio State with a degree in chemistry and biology.” Being a student, Chuck was able to attend many games. He also noted, “I graduated one day and got married the next!”
Roy’s introductory Penn State game was against Notre Dame, and it happened to be raining that day. Chuck’s first Ohio State game he attended in person was against Wisconsin. “I remember we got beat pretty bad. The fullback for Wisconsin kept making touchdowns. He never stopped running. At the time, Woody Hayes was the coach for Ohio State and you could hear the chanting in the stadium, “Woody, Woody!”
Surprisingly, neither Chuck nor Roy played football. Roy’s mother thought the game was too dangerous and would not sign the release form for Roy to play. Instead, Roy developed a love of baseball. He played sandlot baseball in his neighborhood and then went on to umpire little league games for Pennridge High School for 25 years.
Chuck enjoyed playing tennis and started when he was very young. At this point in our conversation, Roy interjected, “I used to think tennis was for sissies, but then a friend asked me to play. Afterward, I didn’t think it was for sissies anymore!”
Both men, however, share the same experience of having served in the military. Roy joined the Army during the Korean War working in transport, while Chuck was a Navy man on destroyers during the Cold War where he practiced chasing submarines. This Army/Navy twist to their friendship only adds to the good-natured rivalry they share.
Chuck and Roy were both surprised and saddened to learn Penn State and Ohio State will not be playing each other starting in the 2025 season. According to The Reading Eagle, Penn State is the only Top 10 team that does not have a protected opponent. Instead, Penn State will play the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). “That’s sad,” Chuck commented. “When you play a really good team [Penn State] and you win, it’s really something.”
The next Penn State vs. Ohio State game is on October 21, 2023. As of now, the two plan to watch the game together.
Chuck and Roy expressed the same sentiment: “Our friendship comes first. But when that game is on, we’re rivals!” It’s all in good fun!