During my career in high school I think I attended three or four football games. The circumstances surrounding those particular social scheduling aberrations I do not recall, but it likely had something to do with girls. My personal attitude toward football games was that they were a waste of a good Friday night. This position was fueled in large part by a perceived, if not completely justified, divide between the world of the arts, which I saw myself in, and the world of dumb jocks running around trying to throw each other to the ground. Hard divisions such as this are easy to come by when one is young, but if one is fortunate they soften at least a bit with age. And it helps when a common denominator comes into play. In my case that was the Toro Marching Band, which our daughter has been a part of for the past three years.
Suddenly, decades after my own high school days were nothing but a faint blur, I had a reason to clear my Friday nights for a football game. True enough, we came mostly to see and hear the band, and the Mountain View Toro Band is an amazing group, but there was a football game going on so we followed along with that and the rest of the side shows like the cheerleaders (death defying athletes is what they should call them), the Blue Guys (or whatever the five young fellows painted up blue and sporting the letters T-O-R-O-S on their chests are officially called), and, of course, the crowd itself. And although we were never particularly comfortable, even with padded stadium seats, and sometimes the games were anything but competitive, and way too often the people sitting around us were jabbering so much it was almost impossible to hear either the announcer telling us who had fouled whom or even the nearly two hundred musicians on the field during halftime playing and formationing their hearts out, all in all I wouldn't have missed one of those games for the world. It was community and pageant and spectacle and anarchy and laughter and disbelief and a whole lot of just plain getting away from the rest of the day.
Here are a few of the photos I have taken at those games.
This game was against my alma mater, Westwood High. It was homecoming for them as well as their 50th anniversary. I felt badly that they lost. If I recall the score was 50-14. And their band, like their football team, both of which were powerhouses in the state back in the 70's, was a diminished force on the field. But they put on a great fireworks display and a nice homecoming parade around the track and it made me glad I was a Westwood Warrior.
My photographic holy grail as far as the games themselves were concerned, was to get a really good shot of a kick-off. Never got anything better than this one.
The Toro band staff cutting loose while the band plays a stand tune. Whenever the action on the field got a bit on the snoozy side, which was rather often, all I had to do was look left.
Usually it was one of the Blue Guys who would get on this platform, be hoisted up by a few dozen cheerleaders, and knock out pushups every time the Toro football team scored. If the team had made it to thirty points, the lad was obliged to do thirty pushups. Some games the BG's were notable for their absence. But the cheerleaders took over the Keeping Up With the Score duties without missing a beat. It was perhaps one of the least dangerous stunts they performed each Friday night. Those girls made me nervous.
It was cool when the Mesa High School band came over to the home team side of the bleachers so they could watch our halftime show from a better perspective than their seats on the other side of the field afforded them. The bands are competitive but they are also amazingly supportive of each other. Respect amongst bands runs rampant in the best sort of way.
One of the three Toro drum majors leading the band in a stand tune.
A portion of the 193 member Toro marching band on the field performing their 2011 show "Elemental".
The highlight of every fourth quarter was when the drumline came out onto the track and performed. This nifty stunt by the bass drum players was always a crowd pleaser. The snares were sharp and confident. But it was the cowbell that really carried the day. During halftime our kid did some serious playing on the marimba, but come the fourth quarter she worked the crowd with the bell.
The last game of the season was over a week ago. The football team ended with a record of 4-6, worst in school history. The band is going to the state championship this Saturday.