To borrow a phrase from the great Blackie Sherrod…..We’re in the dog days of summer right now. The preseason magazines and articles have been read, the upcoming season discussed at length over countless cups of coffee, and there’s 42 days until kickoff. So what to do? What follows will hopefully help pass the time….
This season is a mixture of things. Anticipation. Joy. Sadness. Excitement. It’s some of everything for me.
It will be exciting, on one hand, because the Lions are somewhere they haven’t been in 45 years. Defending a National Championship. All the attention, all the accolades that come along with it. The Hawk is sure to be packed, and the schedule looks to be a tough one.
This one is extra special for me. You see, my daughter Shelby will be an incoming Freshman this fall. It’s always special to see your children grow and broaden their horizons, but when she decided to continue her education at Dad’s Alma Mater, well, that just took things to a whole other level.
When she told her Mother and I she wanted to come to Commerce, I had to ask her why. She answered, “Dad, it seems like home.” and “You seem to know EVERYBODY.” Well, that’s true to an extent. I do know a lot of people. That’s what makes Commerce great. The people. Much like the fictional Cheers, it’s a place “Where everybody knows your name.” That’s something that can’t be bought or sold.
(Harding Post Game-It’s become a McLean tradition to take a picture on field after every win.)
On the other hand, there will be a touch of sadness in knowing that Coach Hawkins won’t be there physically. Oh, he’ll be there in spirit. When the fight song is played, he’ll be there. When the Lions make that extra effort and pull out the win, or make a crucial play, he’ll be there, doing what he’s always done. He’ll probably be arguing with Boley Crawford about what play to call. And he’ll have the biggest smile doing it.
(After the home opener, a 59-6 win over William Jewell)
I’ve often wondered lately, now that Coach has gone home, who will fill in to Call the Roll after a win? It’s tradition, it will carry on, but who? Especially after the first win. In thinking this over, one name kept continously coming up . Ray Hawkins.
(Headed out to Call the Roll after the William Jewell game)
I had never met Ray during my days as a student, but I knew of him. I met him much later, and it seemed as if we’d always known each other. He’s been a great friend, and a loving and devoted son. It was easy to see. I can think of no greater honor than to have Ray lead the tradition.
These 42 days can’t pass quickly enough. There’s nothing like the anticipation of an upcoming season, especially one filled with such hope and promise. Fall Saturday afternoons in Commerce are pure magic.
I’d like to conclude with this…..my Dad once told me, “Son, if you’re doing something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” That is true. It has been a joy writing for The Lion Wire. It’s been a dream come true. I am thankful to Brian Pate for the opportunity to truly have fun doing something I’ve always wanted to do.
I’m thankful to all of our readers for the kind comments and support. I thought at first this would be something temporary until Brian had time to get back to it. One thing led to another, and I’m happy to continue here.
Thank you to Billy Minor for listening to me and answering questions I just didn’t have an answer for. Turns out, we have a lot of the same thoughts and feelings about the game.
Commerce, America. Not a bad place to cal home. I may live in Houston, but my heart is in Commerce.
42 days…..See you at The Hawk