It's game day! There's no more entrenched tradition than meeting under the Friday night lights -- and no where is the weekly showdown more jaw dropping than right here on my stomping ground. Don't mistake my bias. With three young Dragons at our house (ages 9-13), the Southlake Carroll pride comes shining through when it is "game on". It was a natural fit when Ozarka® Natural Spring Water, a brand with Texas ties for the last century asked me to share my thoughts about Dragon spirit. I also enlisted a few "green team" friends who are known for their sky high spirit to chime in with their game time rituals. You can't describe game day without starting with spirit wear. On Friday, the entire Southlake community turns green. Bus stops and schools are a collage of green and black, peppered with the words, "Carroll and Dragons". My own family is adorned in top to bottom dragon team apparel and often it is bedazzled, with plenty of bling! It wasn't long ago my girls were wearing their Dragon Youth Cheer uniforms on game day. I adore seeing the tiny cheerleaders all decked out with big, bright bows, along with young football players in their oversized jerseys. All of them dreaming of their day to come in the big stadium, tearing up the turf and flipping across the sidelines.
Those living outside the SH 114/Southlake Blvd. bubble may not understand our spirited ways, but this video produced by Ozarka® to kick off its "Taste the Texas Tradition" gives you a good idea of what the unique football tradition looks like when you are a Carroll Dragon:http://bit.ly/1mU3sej. At our house, it is paramount to arrive early to the game. We like to deck out the car with flags and decals. It always looks like a Dragon parade streaming into the stadium. You feel right at home surrounded by fans adorned in green paint, head to toe. My kids limit the team tinting to fingernails and the occasional face paint. New to the list of fan favorites this year is the Ozarka towel, along with the traditional shakers and flags. We like to use plenty of "noise power" and have found the cowbell is really the best way to celebrate a big TD! There is nothing more exhilarating than a touchdown run and the deafening sounds that follow from the entire Dragon section! It’s like a high-octane, sea of green all waving, cheering and screaming. With the bright lights of the high-dollar scoreboard flashing -- there is no better, more heart-pumping moment for a Dragon fan.
Serving It Up In Style: Tailgating
Celebrations rev up long before most Dragon fans step foot inside the stadium. Traci Kuketz and her family, never miss a chance to tailgate at Dragon Stadium. It's been a fall Friday ritual for nearly 20 years. "We like to hang out with a group of our friends and just enjoy the hoopla." Kuketz, whose four children are all dragons, describes the tailgating scene as being like "one big family". I can tell you it is. I like to walk through the swarm of people who set up for the parking lot ritual. It is just a kick to check out the elaborate spreads being served up. The grills are fired up, kids are tossing footballs and friends are swapping stories about great games of the past. Most of all, fans are getting psyched about the game to come. Kuketz feels that rush of comradery and spirit. "It is incredible to be part of an entire community where everyone is a Dragon. There is never a negative word that is said. We stick together as one team."
It’s Alive: Team Spirit
Under the hot glow of the field lights, you can feel the Dragon spirit come to life. When you step inside the stadium, fans are greeted by a burst of energy -- between the brightly-costumed drill team, the cheerleaders and the pre-game. We like to sit with a bird’s eye view of the giant, inflatable helmet for the run-through to kick off the game. There is something intriguing and exciting to see the enthusiastic players and coaches rush through the fog onto the field. Just that quick, the action rolls into halftime; which is always a point of tremendous pride.The Dragon Band rocks the house. With more than 325 members, the musical performance is like a ballet on turf. It is riveting to see so many moving parts, move perfectly together. No game is complete without seeing Tracy Sloan Miller in the stands. She knows what is takes to keep the band marching to a solid beat. Her daughter, Macy Miller plays the cymbals and pours hours of practice time each week into the performance. "On Friday they go straight to the game and don't get home until after midnight. It's a huge commitment, but they love it." Miller says band members give up a chunk of their summer to rehearse and parents volunteer their time to make sure it all fits together. The band motto is, With Pride. "They recite that before every performance and they give it 110%."
Huggs, Kisses and Victory!
Everything is that much sweeter when the pigskin tug-o-war ends in a victory for the Dragons. Excellence is part of the fabric of Southlake Carroll and that includes the celebrated football program. Head Football Coach Hal Wasson just marked his 200th career win. His wife, Sallie Wasson may be the quintessential Dragon fan. She is a staple figure through rain, cold -- whatever the elements can dish out. She is always in the stands, sporting her good luck lapel pin. It says "I Love the Coach". She's only left it behind once and the team lost the game. Every game you'll find Wasson on the 50 yard line decked out in her "ritual" jewelry. “I wear two state championship necklaces and Dragon bracelets.” Wasson says after a TD she gives a high-five to the wives of the other coaches. After a victory, she can't wait to get down to the field to see her husband. "I always go to the field to give Hal (Coach Wasson) a hug and a kiss. The best one was on our 30th Anniversary. We kissed at Cowboy Stadium on the "Star" in the middle of the field." After she hugs her husband, Wasson says she always gives a big squeeze to the quarterback. Many times the QB is a former student. Wasson teaches PE at Johnson Elementary School. Wasson says her husband has coached in other communities, but there is no place like Southlake and its belief that "Once a Dragon, Always a Dragon."
The Tie That Binds
The football celebration doesn't end when the final whistle blows. Fans continue their post-victory hoopla with a feast at a popular burger spot on Southlake Blvd. Our family likes to mark a win with french fries and a milkshake! All of this talk of spirit and pride takes me back to my high school football days growing up in a small town in Northwest Kansas, where our tiny town could at one point only field a six-man football team. The players still gave it their all despite the small squad -- as a cheerleader on the sidelines, the six-man lineup didn't make me any less enthusiastic. Proud parents still rooted for every play and player. Nearly everyone in the town of 200 people came out to cheer on the team. It was the one moment, besides weekly church service that brought the community together. It makes one realize football is football and passion for the game is just that no matter what your locale; big city, small town or somewhere in between. The coaches and players show their passion every week because they know they are playing for something bigger, and the fans know they are cheering for something bigger. We may all have our slightly different rituals, quirks, ways to celebrate game time and victory but when it comes right down to it: we are all part of one goal: Protect The Tradition. Our Tradition!
Show Your Football Pride and Win Water!
What better way to show your spirit, than to share it? Ozarka® Natural Spring water is offering a year's supply of water to three readers who share their tailgating, pride and victory celebrations. To qualify submit your photo showing your favorite football tradition online at #TexasTradition or #H2Ozarka. Good Luck and Go Dragons!
Besides supporting SLC athletics, I also write profiles of interesting people in the community. If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.