Photo courtesy of smmirror.com
SPENDING A FRIDAY EVENING CHECKING OUT MY FORMER HIGH SCHOOL’S HOMECOMING FOOTBALL GAME, AND THE ATMOSPHERE SURROUNDING IT.
Part of my goal for this site is to cover and include things that wouldn’t necessarily be included on other sports sites or blogs.
Which was why, as part of the high school sports coverage, I wanted to write an article regarding a homecoming football game and the atmosphere surrounding that.
Being that I had no desire to go to any of the schools that are always mentioned in the local media whenever the high school football scene is paid attention to, schools like Long Beach Poly, St. John Bosco in Bellflower and Mater Dei in Santa Ana,
I figured what better place to go to than the school I attended during my awkward formative years: Santa Monica High School.
So last Friday evening I journeyed to Corsair Field on the campus of Santa Monica College, a half block from where I used to live, for my alma mater’s homecoming game, Santa Monica’s Vikings having played their home contests there for many decades.
As one can easily imagine, memories came flooding back to me as I arrived in the neighborhood I lived in from 1976-1998, Corsair Field being directly across the street from my old junior high school, which in turn is directly across the street from my old elementary school.
A nice pic of Corsair Field, home to Samohi Football (and Santa Monica College Football) since the mid-20th century. Photo courtesy of thecorsaironline.com
Nostalgia Road, indeed!
My first impression upon entering the place where I spent so much time watching games, performing on the field (more on that in a bit), and trying to get in shape by running on the track and up and down the steps can be summed up in one word:
Cold, as even though I live just a few miles east in a neighboring town I always forget how, because of the sea breeze, Santa Monica can get very chilly in the late afternoons and evenings; I should have worn a hooded sweatshirt instead if a light pullover windbreaker.
The atmosphere at the game was not unlike the atmosphere at other high school games – parents, boosters and students were selling food and other various items in the space between the gate and the stands, and everyone seemed to be quite enthusiastic about the game as a full moon was shining to the south of us.
One significant sign of how things have changed since my high school days in the early to mid 1980s (I graduated in 1985) was the fact that the opposing team, Hawthorne, brought no cheerleaders because they were victims of budget cuts.
When I was told that by their fans, I was shocked and a little saddened, finding it very hard to believe that a school district would be hurting so bad as to cut their high school’s cheerleading squad.
No, this is not a scene from the game I attended, but it would be wrong to not include at least one football action photo here. Photo courtesy of smmirror.com
The number one thing that I enjoyed about Samohi’s (the first letters of Santa, Monica, and High) homecoming game, the thing that prevented me from feeling that I wasted my Friday night, was something that I was a part of, my main activity during my years at that school:
The Samohi Viking Marching Band, where I played the baritone saxophone in the 10th and 11th grades before switching to tenor saxophone as a senior, marching on that Corsair Field turf and other various turfs and streets.
Simply put, they sounded GREAT, better than the Samo band during my time as their sound was of a college band’s level and quality; loud, balanced, and everything else that a good marching band should be.
Which is saying something, considering that the band has been in the upper echelon of high school marching bands in Southern California for decades; the Samohi band I marched in was a very good one, winning competitions with regularity.
But as I listened to the current band, I was convinced that though my Samo band was good, the current band is better; I told them so after the game.
And the fact that their drum major was crowned homecoming king didn’t hurt the band’s standing.
The “Green People” – Samohi’s water polo teams following a longtime homecoming tradition. Photo courtesy of twitter.com
In the grand tradition of how some things never change, around the time that the homecoming queen was being crowned at halftime, Samohi’s water polo teams ran though the field covered in green paint, the “Green People” being a tradition there from my days in the 80s and before.
As for the game itself…
Despite the Vikings getting beaten by Hawthorne as their quarterback was a little too much for them that night, it didn’t seem to matter as everyone was having fun, the students hanging out and the parents and fans watching the game, enjoying the very large cheerleading squad and the listening to the band.
I even had the good fortune of running into a few former schoolmates of mine; we chatted, expressed our happiness at what we have been up to since our youth, and it was a nice reunion.
Though I didn’t plan to stay that long, I ended up staying for the Samohi band’s post game “5th Quarter”, when they play different tunes for as long as they can.
As good as they sound, and as a former member of that band, it wouldn’t have been right if I had not stayed.
As I journeyed home, I couldn’t help thinking that it was a night well spent as although I agree with Thomas Wolfe’s belief that you can’t go home again, it’s nice to visit for a few hours.
I think that’s why reunions – which this essentially was for me – are so popular.
The band I was a part of from 1982-1985: Santa Monica High School’s Viking Marching Band. Nice uniforms, huh – like their sound, those unis are better than ours was. Photo courtesy of samohiband.org