There are a lot of things about Pulaski County that people complain about, but what happens in the fall is not one of them.
From the end of July until the last leaves have fallen off the trees in late November and early December, something very special happens in Pulaski County and in little towns all around our country.
It starts with the first day of practice in late July. “The Boys Of Fall”, a song by country music singer Kenny Chesney, truly hits the mark with lyrics like “when I feel that chill and smell that fresh cut grass….I’m back in my helmet, cleats and shoulder pads.” Those words ring true with any player who has ever been a part of it. Anyone who has played remembers the feeling of going to school on Friday wearing that game day jersey. The pats on the back and the good luck wishes from your fellow students throughout the day make it even more memorable. Coming to school in the morning and finding that the cheerleaders have taped a paper helmet with your number on it to your locker is just another special memory.
Kenny goes on to mention how “in little towns like mine it’s all we’ve got. Newspaper clipping fill the coffee shops. The old men will always think they know it all.” That sure does sound a lot like Pulaski County.
In fall, the leaves start to change colors, painting the surrounding mountains in beautiful colors. Some say fall is when you can see proof that God himself is a Cougar fan, as he paints the hills and valleys in shades of cardinal and gold.
Today is Friday, but you’ll be reading this in our Sunday edition. This Sundays paper is a very special one, as we present our 2012 edition of “The Spirit of Autumn”. This special insert into our paper is something that players have looked forward too ever since this paper first began to publish it. Fans look forward to seeing who the players are, and getting a sneak peak at who might be the ones to score the points on Friday nights. Players look forward to seeing how many times their names are mentioned in the stories, and what pictures make it into print. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, girlfriends and other family walk around with their copy for at least a week afterward, proudly showing off their favorite players picture.
This year we’ve added a little more to it though, and we plan to make it even better next year. You may notice that we give a little respect to the band and the cheerleaders this year. What would a Friday night be without them? Any player who has ever walked down those 63 steps and through the human chain at the bottom will tell you that they still get goosebumps when they hear that first note of “2001: A Space Odyssey” from the Golden Cougar Marching Band.
In our regular sports pages this week, you’ll find two preview articles from Ben Hanneman. This year we made the decision to highlight our two county middle schools in this edition as well. They feed our Cougar football program and, like the recreation league program, are vital to its success. They deserve more than just a short mention each week, and this year they’ll be getting it.
Since this is Sunday, the foundation game with Giles has come and gone. We will have a full report on that game in Tuesdays paper, but you can also check out www.southwesttimessport.com to get a sneak peak at what’s coming. Another good source of information is a fan website that is now in its 15th year of operation, run by a Pulaski graduate, and supported by several others loyal to the program, www.cougarfootball.net.
While I certainly hope that Pulaski County took care of business and had a solid showing against Giles, the real show starts this week. Pulaski vs Radford … the Cougars vs the Bobcats … the “Battle of the Bridge”. Young men in gold helmets will walk down those lighted steps, cross the track, and step onto the surface of Joel Hicks Field to take on young men in black helmets. A matter of pride will be settled between rivals. You can expect a large crowd.
It’s fall in the New River Valley, and nothing brings our community together like “The Pride of Pulaski County”.
It’s Cougar football time. Let’s go!!