In My Opinion
By Caroline Porter
No one can weather the Red Storm
My husband has been hunched over the radio for three weeks now, listening to every play of the play-off football games between the new consolidated school of United and their hapless opponents. We may live in Galesburg, but his heart is in Alexis. A member of the class of 42 of Alexis High School, he was a business owner and resident of that little town for most of his life. Now his alma mater has been consolidated with Warren High School and the football team of their first year of being United High School is playing for the 1A State Championship on Friday. After losing their first two games of the season, they could have been discouraged, but if you lived in Alexis and went to their football games, which I did for five years, you understand the spirit of the town and its people. We know this team is talented and has a good coach, but a positive attitude and desire to win run deep. The team of the combined high schools has not lost a game since.
There have been Porter family members in the Alexis school system for at least five generations. Dales aunts and uncles, his mother, his three siblings, five children and one stepson, eight grandchildren, one niece and two grand-nephews have graduated from Alexis High School and the first of four (so far) great grandchildren in the district has entered the school system.
Dales granddaughter, Michelle Wynne, was elected to the new United School Board last spring and proposed the name for the United sports teams, the Red Storm. With red the predominate color for the Alexis Cardinals and Warren Warriors, it was a good idea with the promise of formidable United teams
When Dale and I were married in 1982, my son was entering eighth grade and we were introduced to the football mania of Alexis. No matter whether the game was home or out of town, the color of red was solid along the sidelines. Not only was most of the town in attendance, but the fans dont bother to sit in the bleachers. They line up along one side and at both ends of the field. And you really dont want to mess with them. They are a good group but many of them are former football players and farmers and they are very strong. The interest in their team is even more entrenched than ever. No, you just dont want to get them upset.
And you dont want to mess with their mothers or wives or sisters either. Loyal and vocal and swathed in red, they dont miss a game and they too are standing along the sidelines, shunning the bleachers, for the most part.
You cant talk about Alexis football without mentioning John Elder, another Alexis boy who became head football coach at AHS in 1965, and high school principal in 1965. He added the responsibility of superintendent in 1984. He resigned as football coach in 1994. So while I lived there he was an award-winning football coach, superintendent and principal of the high school. About the only person higher than he on the totem pole in those parts was God. While other school districts suffered from lack of funds and failed referendum issues, that small school district hadnt had a failed ballot measure that anyone could remember. John Elder, as coach and administrator, had a lot to do with that.
So the discipline, school spirit, desire to win and love of the game are all brought to this years successful team from both the Alexis and Warren schools, now combined.
As one radio announcer said at last weeks semi-final game, "How many people are there
in Alexis anyway?" Thats because the whole town and countryside in that new school district is there. And they will no doubt be taking buses, cars, vans and anything that moves to Champaign on Friday.
Ah, yes, we are excited about Fridays championship game. We will have our ears to the radio and be rooting for the Red Storm. Good luck to the perfect Storm!!
Caroline Porter is a freelance writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Other columns are online at www.thezephyr.com.