Saturday, August 22, 2009

I Love a Good Pep Rally!

Call me old fashioned... but I love a good pep rally.

I like the thousands of energetic people, coming together for one common interest. In this case, the Kansas Jayhawks. More specific, the football season right around the corner. (It was announced today in the AP Poll, Kansas is ranked #25 preseason. That alone is worth celebrating!) As fans show up, I enjoy how KU fans reconnect instantly and for some of us, this is the only time of year we see some of these people. We pick right back up where we left off ... a year ago or maybe longer. The pep rally last night was the perfect storm... a friday night, clear with a few clouds and about 70 degrees in late August, reminding me "this was meant to be."

Though the skirts are shorter and the tops are cropped too small, the cheerleaders still do the same fight song moves and throw in some modern chants and cheers for a little flavor. The large "Big Jay" and smaller "Baby Jay" mascots are easily found in the huge crowd, with a gaggle of children following closely behind as they make their way to various groups for photo opportunities. Like my family, I wonder how many others have used those photos for holiday cards. LOL! Back at the podium and the stage, the traveling KU pep band enthusiastically bobs and weaves their heads in perfect unison to their own music and it's loud enough you can feel it all the way to the center of your being... The crowd loves it and cheers for more!

Several presenters greet our enthusiastic crowd. The newest and 17th KU Chancellor - Bernadette Gray-Little, Kevin Corbett - the charming President of the Alumni Association and others I might have missed while getting our hair sprayed blue and red. Then KU's Head Basketball Coach, Bill Self, gives an inspirational speech that seems genuine and sincere. He knows the power of KU alumni and friends in the community... he knows how to get us fired up. He then introduced the Head Football Coach, Mark Mangino. He's literally a very large man with a large presence. The crowd is silent as he does his best to hammer home his prediction for an exciting football season... yet being very edited. Though it wasn't the greatest of presentations, he gets a very generous and appreciative response and as he exits the stage. The band strikes up again and the cheerleaders and Crimson Girls dance to the school fight song "I'ma Jayhawk". Then everyone links arms over shoulders to sway slowly to the KU School Song... followed by the world famous ROCK CHALK CHANT! When it's over, the band plays longer... the crowd claps along to the beat... nothing but a sea of smiles the entire time.

Change the coaches names and you could put any year, in the last 100 years of KU, in front of this description and it would be believable. It's a good old fashioned pep rally and every school should have one. At Kansas University, we are very fortunate that alumni, such as Pat Roberts at Johnny's Tavern in Prairie Village (and Lawrence KS) have the interest and means to make it happen. I went this year with my 80 year old father, my husband and my two elementary age children. It's an event our three generations can participate in together and reminisce on... well... forever. My children look just as forward to the excitement and festivities as my father does. Most of my life, I've kind of been one to buck tradition. However, when it comes to pep rallies... what's old is still new. Once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk!

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