Friday Night Highlights

Last night was a true Friday night lights evening in Wylie if ever there was one.  The stands were thick with people because it was not only the famed Friday night high school football in Texas, but also because it was Homecoming.

The stadium was teeming with smiling faced girls wearing one mum larger than the next, and their dates wearing garters adorned with the usual ribbons, names, and class or activity.  I swear the enigma that is the mum has grown so completely out of control that they are almost laughable now.  Girls with regular mums, dangling with various school color ribbons according to their class were far outshined by girls with feather boas, led lights, and multiple teddy bears.  When you are tripping over the dangling ribbons of your $300 mum and have to wear a frontal backpack to hold up a double or even triple set of teddy bears so you don't topple frontwards into a face plant, I think the mum has gotten a little ahead of itself.  Good grief, some of these mums seem to have a mind of their own!

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Every year the cycles continue.  The blow up menacing pirate skull spews forth the boys on the field with much fanfare, horns and fog.  They run out through a line of bouncing, dazzling Pacesetters in their high stepping cowboy boots and sequin bedazzled costumes and cowboy hats.  The band pumps up the crowd  with a drum line to be revered.  Everyone stands, clapping, and abuzz with energy and enthusiasm.  The game begins, the crowd reacts in unison, and we are mesmerized by this thing they call Friday Night Lights.  Then as if out of nowhere, half-time is upon us and the fanfare continues as the Pacesetters march out and do their amazing high kicks and splits. Then the band follows.  It is always the same sequence game after game, year after year.

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As the football year plays on, That Wylie Band pulls out more and more stops.  Last night they were absolutely over the top with massive rolling boards containing pictures of life.  Babies, children, teens, graduation, relationships, marriage, aging. They moved these massive boards all over the field as the band marched in step and played some of the best damned music I've heard from them yet. The band adds so much to the feel of these games, and it is the same every year like clockwork. The teachers and coaches on the field are to be commended.

When that well-oiled machine gets a kink in it, people  take notice and begin to bristle. As in the case of last night when the band started up a microphone and some speakers causing a ruckus during the last half of the game.  Play stopped and the coach came pouncing toward the sideline to yell at the band to shut that microphone off. Any hiccups create a flurry of activity to put the high school football cosmic energy right again.

The games are games and they are always played to the best ability of the athlete,s and last night they did not disappoint in pounding McKinney North. With any luck they will win their final opponent in a couple weeks and march on toward finals.  These are joyous times in the community because they enable us to grasp just a few more games; just a few more special moments with these amazing students.  Playoffs are when you see the whole community come together and support their high schools.  Several years ago we found ourselves shivering in Mustang Stadium at SMU cheering on our Wylie High School Pirates.  We dream this dream and every so often a team comes together and makes it so for us.

Each year the band starts low-key.  The show starts low-key.  Then they build in a massive crescendo of sound and activity, culminating in the climax that is Senior Parent Night.  All the seniors who have students out there on that field working in some manner are honored with their parents, and since my son is a Pirate Guard for the Pacesetters, he will be joining the other seniors on the field. 

This will be a bittersweet moment for me.  I will be proud to stand with my son who has accomplished all that I hoped he might, and so much more than I ever could at his age.  I will stand with my good friends whose sons have also achieved this same greatness, only as band members and varsity football players.  Our sons have all been together attending Wylie ISD since they were in the same class in kindergarten, even at times attending cub scouts and boy scouts for a time together.  They have all spread their wings into different areas, sports, band, technical theatre but if there were ever a perfect storm of greatness, it all started in Mrs. Mantooth's class at Dodd Elementary 13 years ago.   

This Senior Parent Night game is so special because it is the last time this mass of students will ever perform together on that football field.  After that the Friday night highlights will fade out and eventually the seniors will move on come June.  I mourned the loss of my oldest son's senior year two years ago when he graduated from this fantastic school district, and I know I will be mourning the loss of all the magic that is senior year after my youngest son graduates this June.  It is truly a mystical time of life and those that come together for Friday night lights in Wylie make it so.