Traditions under stadium lights important during COVID craziness


photo or infographic by Katherine Lee

HELMETS UP. Traditions like players raising their helmets, the Sweetheart victory line and the school song at the end of the game have made the year of COVID-19 a little more normal.

Cheerleaders and Sweethearts prepare to greet the team as they walk into their victory line. The band picks up their instruments and waits for the cue to play the school song. The crowd anxiously waits for the players to run out, and inside of the wildkat head, darkness and smoke surround the players as they step into the head of the wildkat. The pounding in their ears overpowers the voices screaming from the field and adrenaline coursing through them. They are ready for another Friday night under the lights. 

Traditions at football games are important for everyone present, ranging from just a face in the crowd to the quarterback on the field. Keeping these traditions alive, especially in the year of COVID-19 where so many traditions have been cancelled, is important to these high school students. The football team and the Wildkat community of fans, trainers, band members, Sweethearts and cheerleaders will be having their last district game on Saturday, November 28 against Conroe at Moorehead Stadium. 

“These traditions keep me motivated and the tempo of the game moving,” junior football player Johnny McHenry said. “Senior talks in the locker room before the game really hyped me up and gets me in game mode.”

Not only do the players have traditions to hype them up before games, but so do other clubs and organizations who are involved in keeping the energy high. 

“The biggest tradition is the whistle when we are coming on and off the field, it’s a drill team staple,” junior Sweetheart Lieutenant Captain Alyssa Williams said. “We also love to cheer on our team in our new stands by doing stand routines, which are just short routines we repeat to pump everyone up. We appreciate getting to show off our favorite dances on the field for half time and we just hope everyone appreciates it too.”

Cheerleaders are the epitome of school spirit and pumping up a crowd, and they are just as thankful to be a part of the Friday night experience. 

“I’ve always said being involved in Friday night lights and being down on the track is a completely different experience compared to just sitting in the stands,” senior cheerleader Aubrey Hope said. “It’s a feeling of passion and joy that is so unique and special and I’m so blessed to be able to experience it.”

Holding up their helmets on kickoff, kneeling on injuries and  praying before and after the game are just a few examples of how the players stay connected throughout the game. 

“Every family has traditions so in return we have traditions to keep our football family alive and connected,” junior football player Zachary Rogers said. “These traditions help us keep connected with the past players and games. We are going into these last two games and it all comes down to keeping spirits high and being motivated.”

A few players have been watching these traditions play out ever since they were a kid, and are thankful for being a part of it today. 

“My favorite traditions is running out onto the field before the game because we used to do it as kids,” junior football player Kory Ford said.

Seniors reflect back on when they were freshman and how they hope to see these traditions live on after they graduate. These last few games are the last moments they have to soak up the feeling of being on the feild and a part of the game. 

“There are so many traditions with football, on and off the field,” senior football player Jace Halbaedier said. “My favorites would have to be either the school song or the last practice of the year when the seniors speak their minds and reflect on the good ol’ days.”