Taking the fan bus to cheer Lyons Township Lions
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:29AM
When you tell people you’re going to board a bus with 50-some other people for a nearly five-hour drive downstate in order to watch the Lyons Township varsity football team in a playoff game against a school called O’Fallon, because your sophomore son is dressing with the varsity, there are two kinds of responses.
One: “Why on earth would you bother doing that? Is he even going to play? Can’t you just watch it online or something?”
Two: “Yeeeaaaahh!! Football!! Let’s go Lions! We Are! L-T!!”
Obviously, I like that second response much more than the first, and on Saturday, I boarded a coach bus with 50 or more other Lyons Township fans and parents and headed south. Crammed in with our bags full of cold-weather gear and sandwiches, snacks and beverages, and a whole lot of hope, we headed through the flat fields of Illinois towards an uncertain outcome.
Of course, none of us acknowledged the outcome was be uncertain. None of us even acknowledged the possibility we might lose the game. Football players themselves are a superstitious bunch, but football fans are in a whole other league.
Once we pulled in to O’Fallon, we had a few hours to kill before game time, so we headed to a sports bar for some pre-game burgers, deep-fried ribs (I’ve never seen such a thing on a menu before, and I don’t know if this is typical of southern Illinois, but they sure looked good) and beer. There may or may not have been an attempt to abscond with a life-size cardboard statue of the most interesting man in the world that was thwarted by a sharp-eyed waitress.
By the time we pulled up to the high school, we fans were in pretty high spirits, and when we saw tat the LT players were getting off a bus and heading in to the school as we waited to disembark, we launched into a lengthy and repetitive recitation of “We Are! L-T!” aided by the bus’ loudspeaker system.
And once we’d gotten off the bus, the players were headed back out of the school and to the field, and we hooted and hollered and high-fived them all. I’m pretty sure they all thought we were insane, which we may have been.
It was chilly that night, but packed in the stands and feeding off each other’s energy, we felt warm and cozy. And it helped that the team played the best we’d seen all season. They were on fire!
It was tense right up until the last seconds of the game, even though the score was 42-27. We all had wanted to believe that LT was going to kick O’Fallon behind all over the southern end of the state, but there’s that fear of being overconfident and having football karma teach you a lesson.
We jumped and screamed and cheered and hugged and high-fived each other, 90 percent filled with joy and 10 percent disbelief, as the last seconds of the game ticked away. We’re still in it!
This coming weekend, the Lions face Mount Carmel at LT’s Bennett Field. You should be there, whether you have a kid on the team or not. Being in the midst of that level of excitement and camaraderie is a great way to spend a few hours.~.
Readers can contact Viki Gonia by leaving a message at (708) 824-8027 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.