“Take advantage of every minute, every second, every opportunity you have on this magic ride. You never know when it will end. You also never know if you will ever have this experience in your lifetime again.” Those are the words my good friend John Duncan 3rd, gave to me when I spoke to him about covering the White House event. I was contemplating whether to go or stay in Knoxville and watch the video feed. So as I stood in the cold last night after the West game, those words reverberated throughout my brain louder than ever.
The West Rebel faithful students.
The West Rebels had just won a monumental game. However, looking at the student section, looking at the crowd, looking at the parking lot, you would not know if this team was 11-1 or 1-11. The coach of the Rebels, after the game, was pleading with the small but resilient crew of students. He was pleading with them to fill the stands. He was pleading for the community to step up and embrace this magical journey. I have been covering high school sports since 1992. Back then, I was a student reporter for my local high school newspaper. In all my years, I have never seen a coach in the playoffs, plead for the students and community to rally around a football team.
To the fans that I have seen at every game…I salute you! Nothing more attracts a crowd like a crowd attracts a crowd!
“The one thing I cannot buy is passion.” Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg. A billionaire, who in 2o01, while addressing his crowd of supporters, spoke about how important passion is.
This past week was a rough one for me. I have been working with the great neurologists at Vanderbilt on experimental research involving my Parkinson’s. So I made the decision to stay local and not drive out to South Doyle. So imagine my surprise when I read a tweet from Nicholas Hagey, a member of the student section, noticing that I was not at the game. Wow, it blew me away. Not that I was not at the game. What blew me away is how much the South Doyle community gets it! Everything John Duncan 3rd said to me, began to sink in! A few hours earlier, tweets were coming in from all over the community, with signs showing support for South Doyle. I mean churches, repair shops, local schools, the whole community believes. The vaunted student section is now legendary! They know how amazing this run is. . The passion, the energy, the atmosphere, is everything a football community should be. Passion is something you cannot buy; you cannot fake, you cannot loan, trade or bargain for like a commodity. You either have it, or you don’t. South Doyle has it!
Last week, my good friend Sean Dreher, a former reporter who now works at Knox County Schools, asked me why I have adopted the South Doyle Football team. I responded that South Doyle is the modern day “Rocky” story. The passion, the community, almost everyone is rallying around this team. Reporters live for moments like this. Much like John Duncan stated, I have no idea if I will ever see a movement like this again. So here we are. A tale of two communities.
For one team, it will all end. For another, it is just the next beginning. So the rallying cry starts now from behind the camera… When it comes to attendance #breaktherecord Know how special, how amazing this moment is. Get behind the program. This moment is a real life “Varsity Blues.” Fill the stadium up! To the South Doyle Student Section, #breaktherecord Continue your legendary passion. Don’t take any moment for granted! Grow louder, stronger, bigger, with each game! To the West Rebels…here is possibly your last opportunity. You can forever go down in history as the community that more points on the scoreboard then fans in stands. Or the community that took a stand and then was able to fill the stands. This game will be magical. This game will be monumental. I look forward to covering every minute of it!