A Trip Back to Rebel Football
This past Friday, I took my 5 year old son to his first Hays Rebel football game at Bob Shelton Stadium. Wow, I have so many good memories from that place. My terrible career at football ended after my freshman year, but I have such fond memories of attending other games, hanging with friends, and cheering my classmates. When I went on Friday, I have to admit, I was saddened. I realized how much tradition and relationships matter. The game was almost empty without my friends there. The stadium is totally different because the “home” side has been switched to the “visitor” side. That is the epitome of change. As, I sat in the stadium, I looked across at the old home side and it looked like a ghost town. There were only about 75 Manor fans over there. All the nooks where students would hang out and huddle in the cold wind were empty. The little round concession stand was gone. For those of you who have attended games for many years, will not understand my problems. You have seen the incremental change over the last 16 years and probably are accustomed to it. However, for those of us that have been away, it is a bitter pill to swallow.
Some things seem to never change, though. The coaching staff seemed to be the exact same as my freshman year (19 years ago). That is amazing. Truly for them it is about ‘the kids’, and not their career advancement. What a treat for parents and students of Hays High School to have big hearts coaching their kids. Great leaders producing great people. And of course, the Rebels beat the mess out of Manor. The Rebels seem to win most of the time. Although, they started this year out really rough, it looks like they will catch a good stride and make the playoffs. The old concession on the end is still around and completely unupdated. I had to go over to that stand ‘for old-times sake’ and buy some nachos. For a moment, I closed my eyes, heard Dixie and the roaring crowd, smelled the fresh popcorn and regretted that I hadn’t worn my letter jacket. Ok, so maybe I am taking it a little too far. I do still have my letter jacket and often wear it to take out the trash in the winter.
My son, Jude, loved the experience. He never knew anything was different and he immediately began to create his own version of tradition. It just so happened that we sat right next to a girl in his kindergarten class. During the homecoming ceremony while the royalty was being crowned, she leaned over to him and said, “I wish that you were my king.” I thought, “Hey, we are moving a little too fast here!” It was a great time, and I am so thankful we went to see the Rebels. On the way out, Jude said, “When I grow up, I want to play on the Reffels team.” I thought, “His genetics probably won’t get him past freshman year, but ‘hey how about soccer’?!”