By Bobbie Brown
It wasn’t very far to Jaybird stadium. Just down the road about half a mile. I arrived to find the Jaybirds in the midst of running drills. Not many Jaytonites had shown up to watch, but I knew it was a matter of time as everyone knows when the Jaybirds practice in the evening. I was surprised to see 16 warm bodies running back and forth. That is the most Jayton has had in several years. As I walked onto the field, I spied about six managers gathered around the water and chasing footballs. The drills would soon begin.
Once the drills began, I heard phrases like, “Touch the line!” and “Watch the hips!” The Jaybirds worked very hard, as evidenced in the light gray workout shirts turning a dark color and drenched in sweat. My favorite thing during the running and drills was when I heard different Jaybirds yell out encouragement to their teammates. These motivational words were consistently yelled throughout practice. Coach Stanaland encourages players to talk to each other. He yells words of encouragement right along with them. The most important thing I heard him tell the team was to “listen to your body.” The second day of 2-a-days sees many sore muscles screaming. But sore muscles and pulled muscles are two different things.
As practice wound down, I noticed the perimeter of the field filled with cars and trucks. Some fans had strayed into the empty visitor stands. Many were conversing in small groups. I can only imagine the conversation centered around this year and how the Jaybirds would go far. I’ve heard the same conversation in many Sixman towns. THIS could be the year.
The Jaybirds have a lot of athletic ability this year. I look for them to go pretty deep in the playoffs if they can stay healthy. They return two seniors, six juniors, five sophomores, and add three freshmen to the mix. Five returning players received TSMCA All-Region honors and two were All-State selections last year. One thing is certain, the Jaybirds are poised for an exciting run into November. And you can be sure the Jaybird faithful will be there to watch and cheer them on.