catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 18 :: 2007.10.05 — 2007.10.19


I was born in a small town

Until recently, I didn’t realize that outside of small Midwestern towns there were activities besides football games on Friday nights.  Every other Friday for two months in the fall, I could count on bright lights shining into our yard and the sound of my high school history teacher’s voice filling not only my backyard, but the entire town.  And in my new, big city existence, I’ve been happy to disregard Friday night football games as just that—small town.

However, I can’t disregard this large part of who I am so easily.  I remember going to my first football game at Lancer Stadium as a young girl.  My parents took me to the Homecoming game.  It being the late 80s and all, the marching band came complete with a baton twirler.  I now had a goal.  We went home soon after half-time—at the time I remember the excuse being something about my bedtime—but I now realize it was because Mom was tired and probably a little bit bored.  So, for the next several years, I would fall asleep on cool Friday nights in the fall to the sound of Mr. Denner’s voice cheering on the Lancers.

By the time junior high came along, Lancer Stadium was the place to be on Friday nights in September.  In small town Iowa, though, it wasn’t just the cool hangout for the 12 to 18 year old crowd…everyone was there.  From awkward seventh graders on up to seniors in high school, parents of not only the players but of the marching band members and cheerleaders, alumni, and teachers, it seemed like everyone in a 20 mile radius had made their way to the football stadium.

As the weather got cooler in late September and October, I loved getting a cup of cider and holding it with both of my hands, the cup brought up to my nose so that I could smell the goodness.  I loved the opportunity to snuggle into my hand-me-down North Scott Lancers hooded sweatshirt.  Even though we would complain about the almost frigid temperatures, football games weren’t the same when I went away to college and experienced the “wonders” of an indoor stadium. 

In high school, I was in the marching band.  Specifically, I had accomplished my goal and become a member of the Color Guard (the baton twirlers of the 80s were so passé by the mid 90s).  There was something really great, yet mildly irritating about the rehearsals leading up to Friday night games.  The dew on the grass was annoying because I'd end up trailing the freshly mowed grass all over the school for the rest of the day.  I loved doing drop-spin drills with the color guard.  It was so cool to stand at the back of the single-file line and see all fifteen flags in front of you go down and up in unison and to hear the “clink, clink, clink” as all of our rings hit the metal poles.

And then, Friday night came.  The anticipation of the show and of the game was great.  I remember standing in formation outside of the band room, listening to the snares and quads warm up.  Even now, the sound of a drum line brings back only good memories.  I loved how grand everything was at this point in my life.  Seeing the high school football players stretching on the field.  Playing the school fight song.  Saluting the flag as the band played "The Star-Spangled Banner."  It was everything.

When the team would win a big game, the entire crowd would rush the field and celebrate together.  For a small moment, we were part of something that was bigger than ourselves.  It wasn’t just the players’ moment; it was our moment as a community.

The high schools in my new city are bigger, but the football stands are smaller.  This makes me sad, because as much as I try to hide it, small town, Friday night football, is a part of who I am.

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