Saturday night at Colchester High School, the Vermont Ice Storm take on the Watertown Red and Black for the Empire Football League title and I simply cannot wait.
Why can't I wait you may ask? Not only because this is a title game, and I get pumped for those, but this is a world class organization with world class people. For those who are not familiar with semi-professional football, these are guys who actually pay to play. They pay dues to the team (which is a non-profit organization) and pay for their own equipment. In other words, these are guys who play for the love of the game and they are darn good at it.
These are world class people. Guys like Jeff Miller, Russell Humphries, Brad Ruderman and so many others have treated me like a member of the family since we started broadcasting their games. It is funny, there was one time that out of the blue Russell said to me, "Chris, remember, you are part of the family now. You have been good to us, we will be good to you. If you ever need ANYTHING, you call us and you will have an army behind you." Man, I am just a media guy and he said this and meant it. I have been invited to team gatherings, and the team banquet at the end of the year. How can you not root for them?
Head Coach Doc Perez has given me access to the team that I could not have dreamed of. Doc will answer any question and take all day if I need it. When I needed a color guy for a Middlebury College football game, Doc didn't hesitate to offer his services. Now, as Doc is a college professor with a love of pontification, getting him to stop talking could have been an adventure, but he was fantastic. But, he was a bit disappointed that both teams were in the no-huddle so he couldn't talk as much as he wanted to. (Sorry Doc, I had to.)
The fan support is tremendous and they are amazing. Not only do they cheer for EVERYTHING, but they are fans who applaud the opposing team as they are coming off the field. Their attitude is that without the other team, there would not be a game, so the fans show their appreciation. Where else would you find that sort of attitude and consideration? I will answer that for you; nowhere.
As guys like former player Jerry Rascoe know, I rip on the Storm when they are not doing well, but I cannot help but root for them. Their class, their openness, and desire to win, yet be classy at the same time is refreshing and appreciated. Why they don't get more coverage than through us just simply blows my mind. (Well, Channel Three and Five do a good job, but no one else does.) They are the fifth ranked team in the nation and yet cannot seem to get the respect of the rest of the media.
Thanks Dawn, Doc, Scotty, Rudy, Kevin, Peety and the rest of the gang for treating me like family. You guys are incredible and you deserve the best. As I am a guy who wears my heart on my sleeve, let this be my way of saying thank you for the hospitality, the kindness and the friendships I have developed through this team.
Now, I have just one more thing to say to you guys..........BRING IT BOYS!!!!!!!