Friday Night Lights: Half the town was there, blankets-and-jackets cozy. The stands were bursting and raucous and engaged. Students, teachers, neighbors, parents, grandparents, PHS grads. There is just something so cool about high school football here in Patterson.
The lights, the announcer bellowing out the calls, the tri-tip on the grill, the area beyond the end zone filled with young Patterson boys tossing their own footballs, just waiting for the day they get to play on that gorgeous field. And the sweet pleasure in finding so many friends in the stands; friends you love but don’t see nearly as often as you ought to.
At certain moments, I was 17 again. I felt those butterflies and that glorious and anxious teenage chaos — the boyfriends, the drama, the friendships ever-present that shape our high school years, and, hard to ignore, the shared and unrestrained eagerness for our team to win. Remembering the feeling that this is it, this matters, these people matter. I fit here, this is my hometown.
“Eye of the Tiger” blasting from the speakers. Everyone taking a knee for an injured man; breathless moments praying he’s OK. The letterman’s jackets, all the RED SEA shirts. Principal Stubbs doing high kicks with the cheerleaders. And, yeah, much of this happens at regular home games, but this night? Well, this night was different.
There was a palpable connectedness; everyone on the same page, everyone screaming at the same moments, everyone rooting for their boys, everyone sharing one single, town-changing night.
Thank you, Patterson High — the school, the students, the team, the cheerleaders, the volunteers. Thank you for bringing me back, and for bringing me forward. For bringing us together, and for so clearly and so enthusiastically defining community for us all.
n Alysonn Cassidy is a local parent who loves to wax philosophic. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.