Time for the Big One
As I write this, the start of what is the biggest high school sports event in the Traverse City area is only eight hours away. Yes, it is once again time for the annual Patriot football game pitting cross-town rivals Traverse City West and Traverse City Central against each other. With an expected crowd of 10,000 plus, early tailgate parties, and ceremonies honoring veterans, first responders, and active service members this is a true spectacle. The most moving parts for me are the reading of locals who have died in service of their country and the players shaking hands with and thanking the long line of veterans able to attend the game for their service. As the cliche goes, there's not a dry eye in the house.
The level of energy at this game is phenomenal, both on the field and in the stands. Clad in either blue or red commemorative shirts (depending on which school they support), the students and fans are not shy about showing their support. The noise, at times, can be deafening. The competition on the field has always been top level. All the players are up for this game and it shows. This game has been decided by a touchdown or less for the last six years and this year shapes up to be an epic battle.
When I attend high school games, I try to keep my emotions in check and concentrate on just getting the best pictures I can. This game makes that a tall order. In most games I attend, I usually have a favorite team that I am rooting for (although I try not to show it), but when West and Central play in any sport, I am truly neutral because I have so many friends and acquaintances at both schools. I will be roaming both sidelines (and the end zones) tonight trying to get great pictures of both teams and the pageantry of the event. What I will be rooting for tonight is a close, hard-fought game with no injuries and lots of great photo-ops.
See you at the game!!