Veteran’s Park Ablaze with Fire and Spirit
Wednesday night’s bonfire and pep rally was a time for revving up Patriots’ fans, and at the same time a night for bittersweet recognition. With Independence about to play against their long held rival, Butler High School, there was over-the top energy in the team, the cheerleaders, and the band alike.
The pep rally began with a recognition of senior players who will be ending their football playing for Independence in just four more games. Senior cheerleaders were introduced, seniors in the marching band were recognized, and seniors on the soccer and cross country teams were named.
Football Coach Natoli said that, although they have only won one game this year, they plan to win the next four–especially the one against Butler. In his 14th year of coaching, he was told when he first started coaching for Independence, “It doesn’t matter if you lose every other game as long as you beat Butler!” He went on to say, “We have some good game plans, and a couple of new tricks.”
Kaleb “KB” Baker told about last week’s game in which they were penalized for a “forward pass that wasn’t,” but he takes it all in stride. “That’s just part of the game,” he said. He is hoping to see everyone come to the game to witness “an old fashioned Indy vs. Butler game of rivalry.”
When talking about the Patriots’ marching band, Band Leader Robert Pace said, “We are about 10 times better this year than last.” A recent college graduate, this is his first year in this position. To what does he attribute this marked improvement? “I think its because I give the band members more say so and responsibility in what the band does. I give them an opportunity to take charge, and it pays off.” His goal is to get the band financially to “a zero balance” so band members do not have to pay to be in the band. The band has been doing fundraising such as working at the Charlotte Speedway doing security checks of race fan’s bags. As part of this “rebuilding process” they are seeking more corporate sponsors, and for example, are working with the new Ikea to provide music during the store’s grand opening. He also said he plans to reinstate the Band Boosters program.
After the seniors were introduced, it was time to light the bonfire. Although it was an unusually hot evening, many students and members of the community stood around the wooden structure, and cheered when it went up into flames. The fire blazed, licking skyward, and then slowly burned down to embers, as Patriots’ players and supporters began to disburse, thinking of the big game ahead.