We need the rings

Football banquet set for Jan. 17

Brad Gilbert - bgilbert@civitasmedia.com

The 12th Man Club is holding a football banquet Jan. 17. At the heart of the event is a fundraising effort. The effort continues to generate funds directed towards the purchasing of Championship rings for the players and coaches involved our now getting to claim Altus as a title town again.

I applaud the effort by the 12th Man Club to try and capitalize on the best feelgood story to happen in this community for a few generations. There is a meal time scheduled for noon to 1 p.m. on the 17th where you can pay $15 for a meal ticket and break bread with the team.

The meal will be followed by a program and an auction. You don’t have to pay any fee to come after the meal and witness the program or to take part in the auction.

Tuesday of this week marked exactly one month that supporters of the 2015 Oklahoma class 5A football State Champion Altus Bulldogs have worn that crown. That means, the Bulldogs get to where that crown for 11 more months unless they can somehow catch lightening in their water jugs again and repeat the feat. The odds are against that happening.

However, applying pressure to next year’s squad is not the intention of this article or the banquet coming up. The intention of both is multi-faceted.

1. Championship rings are both necessary and desired. After these next 11 months and the 2016 season is played, if, for any of 100 reasons, that the Bulldogs are not crowned again next December, some other team/school/town will be crowned. Athletes at every level desire the ring more than the trophy. If you think this is untrue, ask them. If still not convinced, then go to the AHS gym and find the 1971 State Championship trophy. The only reason you can find it is by it’s unique shape. All markings are gone. I’m not sure how this happens to old trophies. I doubt anyone consistently takes it out and rubs the words off. They are gone nonetheless. This saddened me. It prompted a search by my children and me to locate my State Championship “runner-up” trophy for our 1991 effort in baseball. It was right there next to the 1971 football trophy. My son, Jackson, managed to get the glare just right and barely (barely is emphasized here) could make out the date. Again, I don’t know how this happens to engraved trophies over time.

Trophies fade and wither like old rotator cuffs and they always stay at the school. The rings will go with each player as long as they want to hold on to it. Yes, it’s jewelry. However, they will be worn about as long as letter jackets are worn after high school. Unlike letter jackets though, Championship rings go on displays in doctor offices and home trophy cases.

When players are measured against Jordan or Shaq or Montana or Jeter, are they measured by the numbers of trophies or the number of rings? On that note Bill Russell has two rings from college and 11 rings in 13 years with the Boston Celtics. Michael Phelps has 22 Olympic Medals and 18 gold (same thing). Yogi Berra had 10 rings as player and another three as a coach.

2. The coolest thing to happen to this town along with the blessings of rain in 2015 happened in Yukon on Dec. 5, 2015. Well, even that’s not accurate. The Championship game was just an almost perfectly written script to cap an overhaul of a community two and a half years in the making. The desire for anyone wanting to keep the reason for an uptick of positive change in our community is certainly understandable. Along with any of the multitude of reasons for wanting to commemorate the Champs year, if nothing else it was fun for us all. Admit it. You had a blast in the rainy stands on Friday nights or windy Monday afternoons or Saturday evenings in Lawton. You, chatted up the year after church services, at your offices, on social media, in the aisles at the store. I doubt any out-of-towner relative that came here for Thanksgiving dinner was spared the tales of Taven Benway and all of the rest of Bulldog lore. One of the absolute clearest reasons for keeping the month old memory of our triumph alive as best we can is we saw a change in all of us that went beyond the realm of sports. We locals get kicked around some in our day-to-day. We deal with desert conditions or glacier cold winds. We deal with underfunded schools, a national culture of worries over safety and an overall climate that is tough to trust each other in. Our local football team, even if it lasts just a brief while, managed to transcend any of that and became for us, “The” conversation in our lives.

Kudos to the 12th Man Club for keeping the memory fresh.

3. Some other reasons that I don’t have time or space to write can go here on three like Gabe Barton will be there. However, since I have neither at this time, I will move to number four.

4. If you haven’t had the personal thrill of hearing Coach Reed address an audience from a microphone, then be at the banquet. If you have heard him speak, I know you will be.

No pressure coach. You have already passed the trial phase of your ability to coach. The microphone is yours. Altus is listening. You have our full attention.


Football banquet set for Jan. 17

Brad Gilbert


Reach Brad Gilbert@482-1221 ext. 2076

or bgilbert@civitasmedia.com

Reach Brad Gilbert@482-1221 ext. 2076

or bgilbert@civitasmedia.com

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