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Game Nights

With March Madness upon us, I remember the important role basketball played in the lives of most of us Hoosiers. Barns and garages everywhere held goals, used by kids year-round, with a metal chain net in winter weather. My nephew married a girl who was one of nine children and along with a neighbor, they made up two teams. They played every night in the floored upstairs of the barn. I never played, but loved our high school Friday night games.

They had multiple components. First there was the afternoon pep rally which got us out of class to cheer the Alices on to victory. Yes, that was really the name of the team, after Alice of Old Vincennes an old book written about the area. The coach made a rousing speech as the players surrounded him in a semi-circle, wearing their letter jackets. More than one girl’s heart (including mine!) went pitter-pat at the sight.

That night, the Coliseum was PACKED with people. Parents of the players and cheerleaders came to watch the show, but there were also the young adult couples, who considered it the perfect date night. The women wore matching sweater sets, stockings and high heels, as if they were at church. And given the way we felt about the game, it WAS church.

But the loudest group was the student cheer block. We wore special tops, green on one side and white on the other, and our sponsor designed patterns which we’d create with our shirts. Sometimes it was a white L for Lincoln High school with a green background. Others times it was a V for victory. We even had hand mitts in the two colors, so we could do more elaborate routines.  

The smell of popcorn from the concession stand was as intoxicating as any high-end perfume while we stood and sang the national anthem with our mitts over our hearts. After that we sang the school song and we were ready for action! The cheerleaders kept us in a frenzy and if the score grew close, the place would actually VIBRATE like a roaring locomotive. Those bleachers were hard, but we never noticed, since we were often on our feet cheering.

Our version of March Madness began with the sectional tournament, which we usually won, since we were the biggest school in the county. After their victory, the boys cut down the basketball net and each received a piece of it, along with a trophy for the team.

Never mind that I can’t remember where I parked my car at the grocery, or my Facebook password, but I can remember those thrilling Old School Friday nights like they were yesterday.


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