Riding With the Players


Credit: Kaylee DeWalt

Kaylee DeWalt, Staff Member

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Bright lights blend with the sounds of students cheering. Crowds on each side of the football field take turns yelling taunts at one another.  Down on the field, it’s chaos. The crowds of people hog the sidelines, wiggling between each other, trying to get from one side to another. In the midst of all this chaos stands a line of students. Each one bounding with excitement. 


As the referee blows the whistle, three players from each team saunter towards the middle. With a single coin toss, the game begins and the excitement of the students standing in line on the sidelines grows. 


For that specific line of students, this was a special game. Each one of these students, who are currently enrolled in the VITAL  program here at the school, were given the opportunity to ride along with the football team from loading the bus at the end of the school day to the dinner and then all the way to Pridgeon Stadium where the game would take place.


“We, Leza Brown and I, had decided that we wanted to do more activities that get our students out of the building, after hours, and involved in those things that normally developing high school pears experience and just do without really thinking about,” Ms. Lansing Brown, Vital teacher, said. “Like y’all l go to a football game and you might have to worry about someone picking you up, but you can talk to your friend or you drive, but my students probably won’t ever drive and won’t get those experiences very easily.”


Each dressed in pink for Pink-Out, all seven of the students ascended onto the large bus. Sitting near each other, the chatter never stopped. After a quick stop for dinner, the bus arrived at the stadium. Light rained down on to the stadium. The students were left with squinted eyes and sweaty backs. Finding refuge in front of one of the football teams large fans, began the long three-hour wait till the beginning of the game. However, their energy never faltered. If anything it only increased, especially once the football players started playing music.


A few dance breaks and a push-up contest later, all of which were courtesy of a student named Adriana, the yell leaders sauntered into the stadium. The yellow and green strips of their uniform clashed against their neon pink shirts. A pink face painted yell leader walked over to the seven students, asking them if they would like some face paint. She was met with a choir of yes’. 


Soon the Sky Dancers in their hot pink bedazzled uniforms waltzed in, followed by the cheerleaders, band, and color guard. In what felt like an instant, the game was about to begin. 


“It’s different, you know, being involved. Some times they’re not always included so it’s nice,” Ms. Leza Brown, Vital teacher, said. “It’s a new experience for them and a new experience for the football players.”


Women, ranging from ages young to old, calmly marched forward onto the field. Some had their arms linked with students, while others were with family. Reaching the center of the field, they stopped. The static voice over the speaker introduced each one of them as they took turns stepping forward. This football game was dedicated to them, for they are survivors of breast cancer. After watching Cy-Falls win the coin toss, they were quickly escorted off the field and the game commenced. 


During the game, everything was a blur. The seven students bounced around the left side of the sidelines, running back and forth from their teachers and the yell leaders. For some of the seven students, it was hard to see over what felt like an indestructible wall of football players and photographers, who swarmed the area of the sidelines closest to the players on the field. However, none of the students seemed to mind. They shifted their attention towards the yell leaders and focused on learning some of the many chants. 


The student section behind them gripped the railing of the stands in anxiety, as the game got more competitive and the points for each team started getting closer together. Each student was standing so close that it could only be described as a claustrophobic’s worst nightmare. 


Screams about defense and offense riddled each side of the field, as both teams struggled to get the upper hand. 


Although the game ended unfortunately with a win by Cy-Fair, a promise was made that night. Those seven VITAL students promising themselves that this would be the first of many football games that they would go to.