They’re coming by land. They’re coming by air. They’d probably come by sea, too, if Dallas were a port city.
“It’s a long bus drive, but that’s OK,” says Suzy Thompson, cheer coach and mascot coordinator. Her cheer squad and two Truman mascots rode the 580-mile trip Saturday with Marching Mizzou and the Golden Girls. “It’s sort of a reward for them being out all year in the elements and everything.”
The “reward” mentality applies to everyone. For the players, a bowl game means a chance to break from the usual routine of in-season road games and have some fun — eating hundreds of pounds of meat at Lawry’s Beef Bowl, mingling with family and fans, and just soaking in the postseason atmosphere. For Chase Daniel and his fellow Tigers from Texas, it also means coming home and getting to practice at famed Texas Stadium, home of the Cowboys (and a place Daniel has played before, back in high school).
For fans, a bowl game offers one last football-based adventure. They get to spot players and chat with Coach Gary Pinkel in the lobby of the Hilton Anatole, the team and alumni hotel. They get to don the black and gold and toss a football with their kids in that same fancy lobby. They get to revel in the spirit at pep rallies and other events (see photos below).
There are other rewards from a season like 2007, though. Pinkel has talked about his warm reception while recruiting, and the same applies to cheer squads and the band. Thompson says she’s getting inquiries about cheerleader tryouts for next year, and those don’t even take place until spring. Likewise, Marching Mizzou director Michael Knight says interest in the band has spiked.
“Everyone’s looking to the future,” Thompson says, “thinking that it’s going to be this way for a while.”
Photos by Rob Hill
Top right, fan David Deihl of Trimble, Mo., hoists daughter Delaney for a better view at the Mizzou Spirit Rally at the Hilton Anatole on Sunday. Above and below, Truman and cheerleaders fire up the crowd. The two Trumans who made the trip appreciate the cool weather, says mascot coordinator Suzy Thompson: “It’s warm in that suit.”