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Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016

Bobcat community support

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Photos by Steven Looney
The success of the Thayer Bobcat Football team in 2007 and again in the 2008 season, has united the Thayer community and developed far-reaching support. The boost in community pride plus an outpouring of community support goes along with the flow of team success.

The efforts of individuals, businesses and groups of supporters has lifted the awareness of the community, raised funds, and developed a sense of pride within the surrounding area. It is not only the city of Thayer, but also other cities in the area that have shown their support to the Bobcats.

The Thayer Alumni Association, (the Tail Gater's) the Thayer High School, the Bobcat Booster Club, the Thayer/Mammoth Spring Chamber of Commerce, the Thayer City Council, K-Kountry 95, the Rotary Club, all of the area churches, Wal-Mart, Wallace & Owens, Bobcat Station along with a host of individuals have played a role in the Bobcat community support.

High school athletics, although an extra curricular activity, is not only fun but is also a character and discipline development tool for these young, soon to be adult students. The Thayer High School Board of Education, teachers and the administration, have always been a big supporter of all athletic events and have taken an active role in supporting these efforts.

This year the Thayer High School Football team has generated a stir in the entire area. After last years phenomenal season, and the graduation of a number of All State team members, there may have been question as to how well the 2008 team might fair.

The leadership and drive of senior team members and the tenacity shown by younger team members who quickly learned and stepped up to embrace their roles on the team, has been an inspiration, not only within the team, but it has spilled out to the surrounding community. Under the direction of Coach Billy Webber along with support from assistant coaches Matt Pitts, Marc Pitts, Athletic Director Cliff Hawkins and Steve Atkkinson, the 2008 Bobcat football squad, had one attitude, "Take care of Business."

The recent years of success, on and off the playing field, started years ago with the families of these fine young athletes. A great deal of credit and recognition must be directed to all of the volunteer coaches, who from very young and formidable ages, tirelessly committed their time to help in the development of these fine young men and high school athletes.

The trip to a second State Championship in as many years did not go without some painful physical efforts. A mid season loss to the Liberty Eagles dashed the hopes of an undefeated season. Serious strains and sprains to mussels, tendons, knees and elbows, bone fractures, jammed joints and concussions, only temporally disabled team members. With determination, grit and will, injured players overcame the adversities to return to action. With each gap created by physical distress, team members stepped in to fulfill the assignments and perform their task.

With continued support from the school administration, student body, community, local businesses, Bobcat Boosters, the tireless efforts and support from all of the parents, the Bobcat team was able to fight their battles and continue their quest for a winning 2008 season.

The green colors of the Thayer Bobcats can be seen everywhere you look around town. The athletes and supporters alike wear the green team colors most any day of the week. You can recognize Thayer fans everywhere and maybe even more noticeable, on Green Friday. Whether it is students, teachers, team members, parents or supporters young and the not so young, the color green can be seen everywhere. From the stop light support poles at Highway 63 and 142 intersections, to the Louis Bozman field lights wrapped in green streamers to the team members names on wooden staked signs, posted along the highway, autos and commercial buildings bearing the enthusiastic support banners for the hometown Bobcats.

A winning season greatly increased community support with the boosters club, churches and different merchants providing food supplies and meals for the team, pep rallies and an increased attendance at both away and home football games. Thayer Superintendent Rod Priest said, "We do budget for football based on historical figures, generally on what's been spent in the past. I guess football is one of the only sports in high school which pretty well sustains itself, because of the gate money." Priest said. "If you have a really good year and you have an extended season, you usually get more community behind you, so you have more people showing up for the games, which generates more gate. Usually with football, we will break even." With three of the district playoff games held at Thayer this year, some additional community and area support was necessary. Koshkonong School donated the use of additional bleachers for use at Bozman Stadium, to accommodate additional enthusiastic fans and to comply with Missouri State High School Athletic Association rules.

The Thayer -- Mammoth Springs Rotary Club has been a big contributor to the football seasons, by operating the concession stand during home games. Members volunteer their time, with the funds from concession sales donated back to the high school athletic program. With the help of the activities director and management staff and the generosity of the local T- shirt business owners, the entire resident population of the Shady Oaks Health Care facility, were given Bobcat T- shirts. Football team members were on hand to present the Bobcat T- shirts for residents to wear on Green Friday, to show their team support.

Not only has the general attendance of supporters at home and away games increased, due in part to the winning success of the team, there has been an increased interest from a wide range of ages. From the very young bundled up toddlers, some with spiked green hair, to those of mature ages as well. One Bobcat team members great-grandmother (93 years young), made trips to games in support of her Bobcat player. Alumni from early THS years and some more recent THS years, many with no family ties to the players, were in the stands or along the sidelines wearing their green at many of the games. Supporters and graduates alike made trips from across the state and neighboring states too, just to enjoy the excitement of the games and support the Bobcat team.

For years, a great scattering of Bobcat fans and team supports throughout the area, have been able to enjoy the excitement and sometimes sorrow of football games as long as they were in radio broadcast range. Now with the development of the World Wide Web, the online Live Stream provided by K-Kountry 95 and advertisers who sponsor their broadcasts, the Bobcat Nation support is around the world. Support from Bobcat alumni, family and friends across the United States and in foreign countries, poured into the radio station during broadcasts, with one common theme "Go Big Green!" Bobcat supporters who were at work or others who were unable to brave the late fall elements, showed their support to the team by tuning in to the radio. When unable to attend home games, one of the local youngster (early 80) Bobcat supporters, would always pull a Bob Yuker and say, "I've got me a seat in the front row," as she put her chair in front of the radio to listen to the Bobcat games.

The distance necessary to travel for the district playoff games can be prohibitive for some of the Bobcat fans, with the 2007 season playoff games being in Hayti, Tipton and the championship game in St Louis. The support and generosity of Thayer resident and alumni Linda and her husband Paul Sauer, made it possible for the team to ride in comfort, with parents and supporters alike, enjoying the comfort of three charter transportation buses.

In 2008, Linda again made the trips and was gracious in generously donating to the charter bus costs, in her late husband Paul's memory. Along with the buses, a caravan of vehicles paraded up Highway 63 to Tipton and on under the Gateway Arch to the Dome in St Louis.

With a great send-off lead by the Thayer Police Department, volunteer fire department, parents, Thayer High School Band, cheerleaders, student body and the smiling faces of the little ones from Thayer Grade School, many holding individual handmade Bobcat signs and waving, as the Bobcat team bus burst threw a huge banner made by Regina Caldwell, cheerleaders and supporters. They were on the road to the Dome.

The Thayer Bobcats engaged in battle with the number one team in the state, and left their blood sweat and tears on the turf of the Dome. Although the final score did not count in Thayer's favor, the entire state of Missouri was witness to one of the best football games you will ever have the pleasure to see. Although there is only the one flag for Orrick at the top of the mountain, you can be sure Orrick's players and coaches would find it befitting to place the Green T flag only inches from theirs, next to the top.

After the game, a voice from behind said, "Excuse me sir, I just wanted you to know, that is the toughest, hardest hitting team I have ever played or coached against!" Standing there was Orrick's Head Coach. Of course, thanks and compliments were passed on to the coach for the teams win. While standing on the outside walkway, comments were overheard from Orrick fans and Thayer passerby's stating, "That was the best football game I have ever seen." While waiting for the team bus to return to the school, one of the Bobcat parents commented, "When I made a pit stop in Rolla, a police officer told me he was originally from Houston and what a great game it was." The officer said, "I'll bet you could not find a Rolla police officer on the streets that night, because they were all listening to or watching the game."

The returning Bobcat team bus paraded back into Thayer by the sirens and flashing lights of Thayer Police officers, Oregon County Sheriff's department, Mammoth Spring Police, the Thayer volunteer fire department, and K-Kountry mobile van with a large crowd of Bobcat fans.

It was a Great 2008 Football season. The young men that wear the Green should always know. The Thayer Bobcats are champions and will always be Champions in the hearts of the Bobcat Nation.

Young men who wear the Green,

Hold your heads up high,

This is the truth,

There is no lie,

You all are Champion's,

In your Bobcat Community's eye.

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Excellent story! The words in this article illustrate so clearly what is in the hearts and minds of so many of us Bobcat fans and community residents who support the team, school, fans, parents and community. Thank you for taking the time and effort to write the article!

-- Posted by meallen on Thu, Dec 11, 2008, at 4:20 PM

I feel like I'm there when Steven writes about the games. Thanks for publishing it. Old Bobcodger - Max Evans

-- Posted by maxe on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 4:17 PM

Steve's story is certainly a positive effort to explain a familiar phenonmenon that he makes somewhat interesting.

-- Posted by bigchief8 on Fri, Dec 12, 2008, at 8:17 PM

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