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Cow Bell at Shinbone Ridge
November 04, 2015
In 1985 I became a Gaston Bulldog, my first memories, thinking how beautiful the surroundings were. The mountains, that gorgeous tree that was in front of the old gym where Harold Henson dropped me off in the mornings; I, usually embarrassed because I did not understand how cool his old cars of art really were. Those reading this, whom know Daddy will laugh here. Harold refused to drop me off in the car line like everyone else because it was stupid and took up to much of his time. So, not only did he break the rules, he did it boldly, in a glossy, bright purple, Hudson he had restored immaculately; and with a flick of a switch the road beneath us turned a glow of purple, an added feature. That's how Harold took me to school. Gaston was his old stomping grounds as well, that's where he met Shirley, my mother. Her grandfather, Papa Harris, my great-grandfather was part of the construction of the original Gaston High School. My blood runs deep at the foothills of Shinbone Ridge.
 
My first year at Gaston I tried out for cheerleader and DID NOT, make the squad. I tried the next year, I was officially a "pee Wee" Gaston Bulldog. Fast forward to high school, again, a cheerleader, I also met the man I'm married to. The same grade and ages of Harold and Shirley. Fast forward, Shane and I have two sons whom attend Gaston, years after both sides of Hensons and Chappells made their way through the small hallways of Gaston. My oldest son, Dalyn, now an alumni himself.
 
Here is where it gets deeper...Dalyn, he tried the 'pee wee' football thing, he tried t-ball, he tried Jr. High football, fast, smart with the chess part of the game but, over time his desire faded from different reasons. Devin, whom has been big and tall his entire life, stood a helmet taller as a five year old Gaston "pee wee" football player. Most of Devins' team mates, Shane and I have watched play football for ten years. We have had the ten year football experience along side parents of the other boys from pee wee days. Boys who have become young men, now seniors and spending their final moments as high school football players, going into round one of the playoffs. Devin still stands a helmet taller and his big self still stands out even with unison of their uniforms at, 6'4, 320 lbs size 15 shoe at the age of 17.
 
Let's back up to Devins' 9th grade year. We will just keep it simple, but by this time, our football field at Gaston High School, a place where I've spent hours upon hours for years felt as foreign to me as if I were at an opponents home field advantage. The few fanatically parents, a group so small in numbers but not small in spirit, clapped and cheered, but I felt I could do better to show my support for the boys whom I've watched work, to play football. While watching a Mississippi State game with Shane, I mentioned,"that's what I need to get loud, a cow bell!" Shane, knowing I was falling deeper and deeper in love with game of football, and frustrated with the lost spirit of Gaston; stopped at a farm store and gifted me with my very own "Cow Bell"! The Gaston cheerleader in me awoke, the next game played, I came armed with my new cow bell and made some noise!
 
With an exchange of coaches, an alumni himself, Swane Morris, the same group of players whom lost ten games in a row the year before, talent and heart came together and now, it's like Gaston had never changed. Just because the crowd grew along with winning games did not mean I was putting down my cow bell. I've actually broke two, Shane has fixed them both, my favorite has rang into it's fourth and final year of Gaston Bulldog football. I will ring it to the very end. 
 
I'm around the players, "my boys" as I call them, they've told me they hear the bell. Even though their head is in the game, when they hear that bell ringing, they know they have one of their biggest fans awaiting the next big play as much as they are! I know I've annoyed newcomers, and I do not care a bit. They do not understand the quiet games from before, that lost spirit. Those boys, work, sweat, hurt, heal, fight as Gaston Bulldogs and as I mentioned my love for Gaston runs deep. I cheer the same cheers with the cheerleaders, clap, yell my redneck yell, and for my boys to show my support, I will always ring my cow bell. For I am, a Gaston Bulldog. Thank you to all of "my boys" "my dawgs" I had some of the best Friday nights in my entire life under those lights! Let's go to state! I believe you all can!
 
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