By Boo Boo Bear
It’s hard to forget certain memories in life; some are tragic and some are of joy. Within a lifetime, sports will push the entire gamut of emotion in each of us in it’s own unique way. However heartbreaking sports may be at times, young men and women are drawn to compete over and over again. They will receive little warning of its pain. But, instead with full hearts, a mind full of family lore, and an unbreakable spirit, each will set out to create his or her own story.
My love of sports came to me on a Friday in the month of September, 1980. I was a five years old with almost no understanding of football or organized sports in general. However I did know feeling and emotion. What I remember of my first encounter of football is my Kindergarten teacher announcing we would have special guests coming in that day. I had no idea that on this day, my world would soon change. Suddenly other kids were talking about a Pepper Ally? A couple kids had been to one, explaining that you scream and they play music for the Football Players!
I smile writing this because although I am 44 years of age, to this day, I call a Pep Rally a Pepper Ally. Destiny knocks upon your door a few times throughout a lifetime, and on this day, came a bang on the classroom door! A Red Devil cape, pitchfork, and all came running into the room! It was a dark figure at first with the suns light behind it. It soon exploded in full color before our young eyes. Immediately, I felt fear, and I remember a couple kids crying, while other kids high-fived that darn Devil. Then like Knights in shinning armor entering a castle, I saw in line the Rankin Red Devil Football Players at least in my mind marching into the room. They were huge! All their hair styles were like either Bo or Luke Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard. Each one had on a maroon and white jersey, blue jeans, and boots. They came around desk to desk signing a ribbon for each of us. The Football Players talked to us and the Cheerleaders did a cheer, we screamed and whooped uncontrollably! For the rest of the day we talked in excitement of the upcoming football game, of which I knew nothing about. But was now talking as if I did.
Back in class I was lost in a day dream where the Football Players came back. They told me I was strong and told my teacher I could go outside and play anytime I wanted to. I envisioned them bringing me a jersey that I could wear. A real world voice broke the silence of my day dream when Mrs. King stood and spoke. She explained the rules of the Pepper Ally. We lined up in alphabetical order, and I was first! When we walked out, Mrs King was behind the other class. I followed her as we marched along in a single file line. The sun was bright, light was reflecting from all the cars parked everywhere; people and kids seemed to be in a rush. We were now outside the gym, and Mrs. King was saying stay together! I could hear the band playing with that drum banging, it was amazing! Then I felt it, as we entered the gym! Well let me tell you, at five years old, I felt the very air put into me.
A wall of sound, color, and spirit hit me directly in my chest, and filled my very soul. I could feel the bass drum in my heart, the rhythm gave me goosebumps, and the very air around us was electric. We made our way into the bleachers and sat in a row as a class. The other grades would fill the seats behind us. Suddenly it all stopped, the last of the kids stopped talking, and a kind of murmur silence set in. Then just as quickly, the room tore open with noise! On the gym floor from right to left entered the Football players jogging into place, settling into the form of a giant “L” on the far left of the Gym floor. The band, fans, cheerleaders, and students cheered and clapped along although I did not realize it at the time, the unison of clapping to the fight song blew me away! Noises echoed off the four walls, the banners and vividness of the gym had me hooked I must have sat there in place frozen with zeal, because it was over way to quickly.
Yes, I remember when I fell in love with sports. So to the brave youth who now embark on each of your sports journeys, may you earn that first broken heart with sweat and grit. Yet always remember to smile and celebrate in all the little and great victories that are yet to come.
A word of advice. At some point take the time to research The Laurel Crown and the phrase Memento Mori.
We all have a story... a funny story or a serious story. This space is for those stories that make us laugh or cry or feel motivated.