Today is Friday in September. Football season. My maroon and gold pom poms are calling.
They beckon me from the trunk of a 1980 maroon Camaro with gold pinstriping. When my dad selected the car, I believe he thought it needed to match my uniform.
The days are warm and sunny. Might think it’s still summer.
Then you catch a chill, the crisp crackle of fall on its way. The changing of the guard approaches. My body remembers it’s time to report to the field.
Hear the drumbeat of the marching band. Spirited cadence, rebel yells. Evening now. Almost time for the game to begin.
The home team bursts out of the locker room and breaks through the paper banner stretched across the end zone. Wild bucks, padded up and set loose. Stampeding leather cleats on sparkling green grass.
The horn section screams and flashes silver. The bleachers applaud. The pom poms dazzle and shake.
At some point in the pre game festivities, we cheerleaders gathered on the field. Maybe the football team too. It’s been years, I’ve been a long time gone, and I can’t remember exactly who joined the circle. But I do remember what we did.
Together we said The Lord’s Prayer before kickoff. A tradition and a covering over our game. Over our youth.
So very politically incorrect. Only we didn’t know that then.
Those were the days we could still call our team the Indians. Now it’s called the Storm.
How long, I wonder, until the National Weather Service complains? Good thing the replacement mascot wasn’t an animal or we’d have PETA picketing the commons.
I wonder, as did Bob Fliss in the Carolina Journal Online, if Wake Forest University has been contacted about discarding the demon Deacon? Couldn’t help but notice a neighboring school in Guilford County has yet to give up their Vikings.
And that’s just a wee little pocket in North Carolina.
Dare I question the state university due east of my current home in St. Louis? When will the Fighting Illini become the Fearsome Gully Washers or the Frightening Thunder-Boomers?
We weren’t perfect, but we were good kids. We proudly called ourselves the Indians, believing it meant brave, strong, fierce warriors. We wouldn’t have taken the name if we’d believed it to be oppressive or offensive.
Looking back, I hope no one felt oppressed or was offended. It pains me to think folks would actually take it that way.
In 2004, the Guilford County Board of Education prompted by the North Carolina State Board of Education and the North Carolina Mascot Education & Action Group (yes, there is such a thing) voted to “retire” the mascot that had represented my school since 1926.
The vote came without consulting the citizenry prior to proceeding. The board reasoned the community could comment in the 30 days before the policy would be finalized, as if community input mattered. (Guilford Schools Board Forbids Indian Mascots, Jennifer Fernandez, News & Record, 1.14.04)
So it changed. A lot has changed since I left my pom poms behind.
A couple years ago, the homegirls threw an awesome 20th reunion party for our class. In between all the hugging and laughing and reuniting, we gathered.
Before the dancing and the open bar, we prayed. A tradition. A covering.
When I think of those friends, those times, my high school—to me, we’ll always be the Indians, brave and strong, on a crisp, early autumn Friday night.
How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. James 4:14 NLT
This version of Boys of Summer by The Ataris rocks. Sorry, Don Henley. As noted above, things change.