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Lifelong friends turned rival kickers in Wausau

Wausau, Wis. (WAOW) -- Wausau East and Wests' kickers are both soccer players and lifelong family friends.

The two will faceoff on opposing uprights for the first time Friday night.

Conner and Nick have known each other since birth. While both took different athletic paths, now those are crossing.

"I was always a football player, he was always a soccer player,"
said Conner Smith, Wausau East goalie and now varsity football kicker.

The two families have gathered for birthday parties, holidays and cookouts for the duration of their children's lives. Their family friendships dating back to high school, where the Smiths and Raasch's attended Wausau East together. They've watched their children grow up aside one another.

"There are pictures, it looked like he was eating an oreo cookie but it was in-fact dirt," said Nick's mother; Roberta Raasch about Conner's young habits.

For the Raasch's, being on the field runs in the family. Nicks older brother played soccer at Wausau West, and was asked to kick for the football team. Nick followed in his brothers footsteps.

Both families feel they've stayed connected through the years because of sports.

"Life gets so busy so fast, they never really did things together, like they were never on the same teams, to be able to watch them as they grow has been really fun, " said Chris Smith, Conner's mother.

Conner will be kicking for Wausau East for the first time this year, taking the friendly competition to new heights.

"There's always going to be that rivalry between East and West, but our friendship comes first and we leave it on the field," continued Raasch.

Friday night will be a battle of two backgrounds. Rookie luck versus veteran experience.

Conner and Nick say they aren't worried about the pressure, "It will be a good competition, he's got more experience [yeah i've got years] He's got more experience than I do."

The final score comes with bragging rights and a little motivation for their next match up.

Looking ahead, Nick thinks the day is long overdue, "It will be fun just to go head to head and see where we've gotten over the years and just celebrate it."

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Addison Van Patten

Sports Reporter

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