The start of a tradition?
Like most events, the "Bulldog Bash" was born out of a simple idea with the hope that it might grow into a major event. In June, a handful of people met at The Lodge to try to come up with some ideas to raise $15,000 to assist the district in "start-up" expenses for junior high football.
At this initial meeting, the idea for the "Bash" was born. Although this year's "Bash" is expressly intended to raise money for junior high football, the "Bash" has the potential to evolve into a great event that could have a positive impact on our community and, most importantly, our youngsters.
Junior high football is only a small piece of the whole educational puzzle. If the "Bash" takes off and becomes an annual tradition, funds generated from the event could benefit a variety of deserving groups. The band, cheerleaders, pom squad, dramatic and musical productions and certainly academic pursuits such as mathematics or science contests are worthy of financial support. Possibly even a college scholarship could be established out of future "Bash" funds.
As a sports fan and a coach for more years than I care to admit (okay, I'm going into my 29th year!), I've had the chance to observe and take part in a few athletic "traditions." I've found that some traditions can be fun and very important to those who take part in them. I've been at KU games to hear 15,000 fans chant, "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU," and I've sat in the middle of 85,000 Nebraska people all dressed in red and yelling, "Go Big Red." Having married into a family of Husker wackos, I'm confronted every week of the football season with my in-laws' "family tradition" of calling each other on the phone and hanging up after one ring each time Nebraska scores a touchdown. As my wife is the oldest of nine kids, game days with Nebraska on TV blowing someone out can be ridiculous.
Traditions may appear to outsiders to be pretty stupid and maybe a bit "off the wall" at times. Sometimes, traditions start slowly and take a while to get going. Occasionally, considerable effort and prodding are necessary to get a tradition going. However, once a tradition gets established, it somehow manages to keep resurfacing and take on a life of its own.
In 1980, I took over the basketball job at Wayne State College and the coaching staff decided we needed to do something a bit different to create some interest and support for the program. When the clock got down to exactly 3 minutes before the game, we would turn the PA system on full blast with the theme from the TV show Rawhide. I made the guys run out of a corner door in the gym, run a lap around the entire floor and go into a fast-paced lay-up drill. At first, our guys hated it I mean "Hated" it. We had a big, talented forward named Leon McRae from Durham, N.C., and I nearly had to use an electric cattle prod to get him out the door.
After a few games, the students and fans started getting into it. As the clock would tick down toward 3 minutes, some of the crowd would start clapping and stomping in unison. As the year progressed, some of the crowd started chanting, "Rolling, Rolling, Rolling," right before the guys would come out. By the end of the year, the "Rawhide" tradition was established. Leon McRae was now one of the first players leading the team out on the floor. It was a great atmosphere at "big" games because you knew the place was going to erupt at the 3 minute mark. Stupid? Yes. Silly? Most definitely. Fun? Heck yes! Did it have a positive impact on the players, school and community? You bet!
Tunnel vision and the ability to maybe not see the big picture are characteristics that many of us possess all too often. Occasionally, we are all caught up in our own world and we are hesitant to try something new that we think might not impact us. I'll admit that I'm the parent of a fifth grade boy who may someday want to play junior high football. Thus, I'm "motivated" to push the "Bash," although I may be pushing the addition of Sumo wrestling if my son continues to eat like he has the last few months.
In the large view though, I see the "Bulldog Bash" as having the potential to do so much more than simply help get junior high football going in Baldwin. We have an opportunity to put together an activity that will involve the school district, Baldwin students and alums, Baker University, Baker students, parents, local businesses and the community as a whole. Junior high football provided the reason to get the "Bash" started and it will feel the immediate impact from the event. In years to come, the "Bash" can impact many other activities within the district.
Will the "Bulldog Bash" become a tradition? I really don't know. Getting several hundred people to "get on the same page" and support a common cause is a difficult task. Like the theme from Rawhide, if the "Bash" gets "rolling," I think it can be a darn good deal for the kids of Baldwin.