August 14, 2013

Football Season Is Upon Us

I never played football except for about a week my freshman year of high school. Football wasn't for me. Practices were too hard and I didn't enjoy the scrimmage. All of my close friends played football, so I decided to use my camera and make myself useful. I took lots of football photos over the years. My junior and senior years, Elk Rapids High School football had a renaissance, even beating tough, unbeatable teams from previous years. It was fun. It was different.

In college I didn't really pay attention to high school football but did go to some Central Michigan University football games. The team was actually decent in those days. I never really tailgated, never really got into the game day action.

When I student taught at Ithaca, I found out how passionate people can be about their football. Even thought the Yellow Jackets weren't world beaters back then, the community loved their football. I remember that the Beal City Aggies were really good, winning a state title the year I student taught. Their coach was Ben Steele.

I found employment at a small, rural school in an extremely small town called Vestaburg. It's located by Mt. Pleasant and Alma so I was familiar with where it was. In fact, I had attended a high school basketball game during college with a friend from Morrice. That school was in Vestaburg's league. I attended most home games and enjoyed the atmosphere. My first year teaching was the first year the Wolverines, at 5–4, made it to the playoffs. You talk about an awesome atmosphere. Vestaburg traditionally was a one or two win team.

Things went downhill afterward and after a couple of more tough seasons, the coach took an assistant job with Ithaca and we had an opening. This was the same time that I was setting into a new position at the school. I was now the athletic director. Prior to my becoming AD, we had hired a football coach but he jilted us for Mt. Pleasant and we had an opening. We contacted Steele, who had retired from coaching and he talked with us and we brought him on board. The first year was rough. But the fall football bug was now part of me.

We incorporated Booster cook–outs, tailgates prior to games, and anything else we could come up with to make Friday nights fun for the community. Over time, the Wolverines turned things around. I eventually went to Central Montcalm who had a couple of good runs while I was there. I even took to announcing the games on Friday nights with the other elementary principal. That was a lot of fun and I found as much trivia as I could — I was basically the color commentator.

The mighty Wolverines are still my favorite high school team because my friends are the coaches and there's something about the Red & White. It's football season. The players are getting ready. The coaches are devising schemes.

Who else is ready for Friday Night Lights?

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