Roaming the campus before game time, I stumble onto the New Hampshire publicity director who, also toting a camera, is hurrying to photograph a most attractive group of girl cheerleaders in front of the old main building. I tag along and remain to photograph them as they rehearse and perfect their various routines before a small cluster of onlookers.
Before game time the New Hampshire band forms and, led by cheerleaders, marches down the main street past a large tailgate picnic to the stadium. On the field a red fire engine, bedecked with fraternity members and their dates, is moved into place. A crowd liberally sprinkled with old grad types, the ubiquitous dog that runs onto the field, and a finishing cross-country runner complete a rather full panorama.
OCT. 21, SPEARFISH, S. DAK.
BLACK HILLS STATE VS. NEBRASKA WESLEYAN
Difficult to reach Spearfish. Two jet flights, a long wait at the Omaha airport and a final propeller flight to Rapid City. Spearfish still an hour or so away by car. On the Black Hills State campus, two hours to game time and I find no evidence that a game in fact will be played this day. Forty-five minutes to game time and nothing stirring, the campus virtually deserted. A quick check with the athletic department confirms that Black Hills State will indeed play Nebraska Wesleyan today; however, there is stiff competition for interest as it is also the opening day of wild turkey and pheasant season, and the Oklahoma-Colorado game is on television. A modest crowd is expected.
Three or four spectators are seated in the small concrete stretch of stands as both teams take the field for their pre-game drill. With the field lying at the base of an extremely steep hill, the players must either jump down through the stands or run down a sharply inclined and well-worn dirt path. No pampering of football stars here.
A small and nonuniformed band begins to form in the stands as a few more spectators begin to trickle in. Along the sidelines I converse with the star of last year's Black Hills team, who expresses utter amazement that anyone would be covering this game. The point of the story is explained, and it is further explained that the colorful name Spearfish is as much responsible as anything for my being here. He laughs and confesses, to my surprise, that he first attended Black Hills State largely because of the imagery of the name Spearfish. At half-time both squads remain on the field rather than traverse that sharp incline again. By now many of the early morning hunters are arriving at the game, and the crowd swells to a few hundred or so.
After the game and at the urging of the Black Hills State athletic director, I drive through Spearfish Canyon on my way back to Rapid City and encounter some spectacular scenery. I suspect last year's football star was not sorry he was lured by the name Spearfish into attending Black Hills State.
OCT. 28, MCMINNVILLE, ORE.
LINFIELD COLLEGE vs. LEWIS AND CLARK
The longest jaunt of the assignment, a jet flight to Portland and a 40-mile drive to McMinnville. Linfield College, a small, pleasant campus surrounded by distant mountains. Today's game is also homecoming for Linfield, complete with the crowning of a homecoming queen, this one particularly overcome by emotion, and the releasing of colorful balloons into the air.
A well-played but basically routine small-college game. One unique feature, however, is provided by the Linfield head coach who chooses to watch the game and run his team from the press box rather than the sidelines.