Fans bask in the sun at FHSU scrimmage

football scrimmage

By Randy Gonzales
University Relations and Marketing
HAYS, Kan. -- This time, there was no rain.

At last year's spring scrimmage for the Fort Hays State University football team, a torrential downpour forced everybody inside at the Schmidt-Bickle Training Facility adjacent to Lewis Field Stadium.

A Leadership 310 class project, which planned activities for the inaugural Spring Kickoff 2016, had to shift to Plan B mode last year due to the rain; nonetheless, about six times as many fans as had attended recent scrimmages showed up. The goal was to promote FHSU's ties to the community as well as recruit members for Tigers4Ever, a student alumni organization on campus which was looking to start up again after being dormant in recent years.

At last weekend's Spring Kickoff 2017 for the Tiger football team, there was nary a rain drop, and more than 300 Tiger fans watched the players run through a controlled scrimmage at Lewis Field on a warm and sunny spring day.

FHSU cheerleaders and the Tiger Debs were in attendance, as was Victor E. Tiger, Fort Hays State's mascot. Public address announcer Ken Windholz was on hand to announce the action. The Block & Bridle Club and Sigma Alpha, the agriculture sorority, sold Sloppy Joes and baked beans for a fundraiser.

Perhaps the highlight of the day was a fan interaction segment which was held after the scrimmage and before the players signed autographs. Fans signed up to go on the field against the Tigers. They tried to kick extra points, field a punt, catch a TD pass and both run and throw for scores. Participants included FHSU students and even the littlest of fans.

One young girl took a handoff and ran around left end toward the end zone, only to be greeted by several scary-looking Tigers. She put on the brakes, shoved it in reverse and hightailed it 90 yards to the other end zone. Tiger players gave "chase" and failed to tackle her as she dashed into the end zone -- much to the delight of the fans.

"That was funny to watch," said Tiesha Scipio, a Fort Hays State senior from Manhattan. "I think the little girl was everybody's favorite."

"At the end of the game, it was pretty cool to have everyone out there," on the field, Tiger senior defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd said. "I hope they keep that up. It would be a cool tradition to start."

Scipio, who had attended past scrimmages where a fan could hear the crickets, liked the fun atmosphere.

"I was surprised to see how many people came out because I have been to the past ones," she said. "It was just usually close, immediate family. It was just a scrimmage; it wasn't anything special. This year, it was way different. I think it was a lot better this year."

Kirsten Theis, Wright junior, is one of 16 members of Tigers4Ever. She was happy to see the sunny skies.

"It helps that it's not raining this year so that we can get a better perspective of turnout," she said.

Janette Meis, chapter and alumni development program coordinator for the FHSU Alumni Association, is the sponsor for Tigers4Ever. The purpose for promoting the scrimmage is two-fold, she said.

"Tigers4Ever is about bringing students and alumni together," Meis said. "I see this event as a catalyst for that.

"We hope to use this as a recruitment opportunity also, to get more people involved in our organization, make them more aware of what we do."

FHSU football coach Chris Brown is aware of Tigers4Ever's efforts to promote the spring scrimmage, and is appreciative.

"We're glad with their involvement, getting more people to come and interact with our guys," Brown said. "It's just the support for our players. We all work together. We're all family. We all do this for each other."

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