My better half Pam was not the sports junkie that I was while in high school.
She will quickly admit to as much. That’s why I imagine in the end she probably wasn’t too surprised at my request this past Sunday.
I asked her to show me where the old football field was for Jackson County High School where the Panthers played up until the late 1980s. She was a student there herself right before the new school facility was constructed.
“OK,” she said at my request with somewhat of a puzzled sound in her voice, probably wondering just why in the world I would want to see it. Then again, maybe not.
We turned into the old high school location up the road in Jefferson and she told me how to make my way behind the school to where the football facility had been some two decades ago. With the bleachers gone and only the field, goal posts and aging scoreboard remaining, everything seemed a little small to my eyes, which had never seen the facility in use.
Pam, however, said she could recall it quite well. She pointed out where everything had been and what it was like back in the 1980s when she was a student. I will say it was nice to see the field still being kept in shape and that it had not been allowed to become an overgrown hay field.
For a variety of reasons, the Panthers have never been a football power but there was something about the small stadium (if you could even call it that) which appealed to me.
It had that small town atmosphere that seems to be missing in today’s high school football facility of large, metal bleachers going multiple rows up.
I was also given somewhat of a guided tour, at least from the outside of the buildings, of where various classrooms were and it wasn’t difficult to see in my mind students changing classes and doing things teenagers do — regardless of the year.
I could also remember what it was like counting down the weekdays until Friday night when another football game would arrive.
Rest assured, Football Friday Nights didn’t mean the same thing to Pam back then as they do to me now (they still don’t) but through me she knows more about them now. Today, her first question on Saturday mornings in the fall is “Who won?”
Jackson County High School, like its counter-part Winder-Barrow High School, has grown a great deal since the late 1980s and early 1990s. (Apalachee High School was not on the scene at the time.) However, I’ve not always held the belief that growth equals something better.
Looking at the old facility this past weekend used by the Jackson County High School Panthers, my mind drifted back to a simplier time when my greatest concern was counting down the days to kickoff on Friday night.
In some ways I still do it now, but it’s more of a reward these days for surviving another work week. At least we can still recall those “Glory Days” of youth, as the Boss sang about in his classic many years ago.
Chris Bridges is sports editor of the Barrow Journal. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.