Friday Night Lights

Major (or even minor) sports fans we are not, but we did promise ourselves that we would experience one small-town Friday-night high school football game in the Midwest as part of this trip.

Last night we went to nearby Chapman, Kansas, to see the “Fighting Irish” play the Wamego Raiders.  Chapman itself looked like a funny combination of Victorian and modern inexpensively built housing, and we learned there is a reason for that. In 2008, a major tornado ripped through the town and, instead of lifting them to nearby Wamego where the Oz museum resides, destroyed much of the town.

They have somewhat recovered, but the effects must linger. Guess that’s why the residents throw themselves into team support with such vigor, to come together as a community that survived the worst.

Don, who has marching band credentials from a similarly sized town, reports that not much has changed in the world of high school football. Even the cheerleader uniforms seemed familiar. The band, of course, was not up to Ohio standards, but even so, it tried hard to rally the crowds. We supported the home team – always the safest bet – and got the full-on cheerleader experience. They also have a group called the “Emerald Ladies” who perform during half-time. Of course the Wamego Raiders were equally well-represented in the pep category. Thrilling stuff!

And then there was the actual football game. The Fighting Irish did not fight as hard as the Wamego Raiders, unfortunately. (Final score: 20 to 6.) But they did have spirit. Despite the pre-game announcement about the official rules of Kansas good sportsmanship being strictly adhered to in this stadium, guess there was leeway for the “Rip Apart the Raiders!” sentiments freely expressed and all done very tastefully. Despite that, no go for the home team, but a good time was had by all – including us.

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