NORMAN — As of this morning, it’s unclear just how many Norman North students will be shuttled to Friday’s Class 6A title game and in how much comfort.
Charter bus availability may be a slightly random thing, so we’ll see. Of course, many upperclassmen have cars and if they’d just (almost) drive the speed limit, I don’t mind sharing the road with them on the way to Boone Pickens Stadium.
Whatever, I have little doubt the T-Wolves will be playing in front of their third straight terrific crowd, maybe their third straight record crowd for every game but a season-opening (or playoff, because it’s happened once) Crosstown Clash.
But this column isn’t about Friday’s crowd. It’s about the crowds that will come after. And not just football crowds.
It may be hard for Norman High and Norman North students to understand, but something resembling the student presence that’s been in force the previous two weeks, playoff victories over Broken Arrow and Owasso, is actually pretty common at a place like Washington or Purcell, where time really does stop on Autumn Fridays, and occasional Thursdays, when the team’s at home.
Did you know that all these years, I still haven’t seen the NHS Gym or the North Gym full. Not once. Not even close. I’m pretty sure the Norman crowd that showed up for the 1999 boys Class 6A hoops final, at Lloyd Noble Center, when the Boylan brothers, Sam Packard and Kyle Tolin led the Tigers to the gold ball, could have filled the NHS Gym, but would they have shown up if they’d played it there?
I’ve been heartened by North soccer’s ability to draw a crowd when it goes deep into the playoffs, but it only really shows up then.
I remember a state volleyball tournament in Shawnee that North students rocked, but I’m afraid it was in the name of being let out of school for just that purpose.
Trying not to sound like an old fogey, when I looked out upon that huge swath of North students at Union-Tuttle Stadium, a swath that easily outnumbered Owasso’s swath on the other side, I wondered how many among the several hundred within had never met others they were that moment sharing the bleachers with.
I wondered how many within were from the beautiful and popular crowd (who are always more beautiful and popular to each other than everybody else) learning to share space not typically shared. I wondered how many were floaters, oprhans in the social sea, yet comfortable enough as long as they knew somebody near. I wondered how many misfits had nonetheless hopped on their football team’s bandwagon, sharing space with others they’d never shared a word. I hoped everybody was represented and I hoped it might somehow be the start of something.
Like, can we get a couple hundred people to boys and girls basketball, or more than the three, four or five rows of students? And, for crying out loud, seeing as North’s been around for more than 15 years, could we get some alumni, too.
Could NHS students and alumni take the same hint? This town is teeming with former Tigers. Guess what, basketball season starts Friday at Southmoore, and while I’m sure you’re welcome on North’s bandwagon in Stillwater that night, you think you might take in some hoops this season, too?
At Little Axe, they come out for wrestling. They really do. At Community Christian, the third high school in town, basketball is a big deal. The Royals may not have a ton of fans, but you’d be amazed how many of them show up for the games.
Times have changed so much, I know. And still, I went to a bunch of McGuinness games a long time ago, but not every one.
Still, I think about what I wrote the other night, that one of the great things about this bunch of T-Wolves is how they make anything seem possible.
Well, you think it’s possible that the mass of humanity that’s been following it around lately might not disintegrate just because the magic carpet ride, win or lose, is about to end?
Yeah, I know, everybody will buy their T-shirts and paint their bodies for next season’s Owen Field Clash. But what about the week after that, the week after that and the week after that?
What about everybody else’s season? What about baseball and softball and basketball and soccer?
If you haven’t noticed, sports are fun. So is feeling like you’re a part of something. Once in a while, a team captures the imagination and everybody jumps on board. Even more rare, sometimes they stay on board and look for other places to park the bandwagon.
On the field, the T-Wolves are building a legacy. Maybe their followers can build one off it, too.
Clay HorningFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org