I love the movie Field of Dreams. In it, the main character hears a recurring voice that keeps telling him, “If you build it, he will come.” He doesn’t really know much about what he’s doing or why, he just knows that something in the universe is insistent that he must build a baseball field in the middle of an Iowa cornfield. Indeed, when he lays the groundwork, he – Shoeless Joe Jackson – does come and so do many, many others. It is a fantasy film based on the magic of faith, hard work, help from beyond the veil and community. I’ve seen that movie a hundred times, and I can never walk away untouched.
I love magic. I believe in magic. I believe that there are times when an energy is created due to some circumstance or person or group of persons that snowballs into an energy that is unstoppable and changes everything in its wake. It takes on a life of its own, and, whoever is open to being changed will grasp onto it for the ride. I love to be changed. I love it when I feel old beliefs and desires disintegrate into a puff of air, and I come out with a fresh new perspective. I find the more I’m open to being changed, the more often it happens, and I find it happens most often through magic. And, like everything else in the world, I believe magic is produced through energy. The more energy that is attracted to it, the bigger and more expansive it gets. And, everything ….everything …. is changed in its wake.
My Favorite RunOut Video
I went to college at Southeastern Louisiana University from 1979 – 1984. I worked for the Sports Information Department and was the Sports Editor of our school newspaper, The Lion’s Roar. Football was big during my tenure at Southeastern, but in 1986, football was discontinued. A group of former football alumni worked feverishly to get football back to SLU, and they finally fielded a new team in 2002. There was another break in football at Southeastern for 3 years due to World War II. The inability to field a football team in 1985 and the ensuing years was a heartbreaker for alumni of Southeastern football. The field went quiet. No cheers. No hot dogs. No Saturday night game. No team. No magic.
My friend Gretchen invited me to the McNeese game toward the end of this year’s season. I went, thinking it would be fun. Before the game, they were talking about this being an “important game.” Now, I have never been a football fan. Football was a business to me. I worked in it. Daddy worked in it. My first husband worked in it. Football was an interruption to my life. I heard about the politics, the issues, the stories, the problems that the media reported. There was no magic for me. So, I never really understood the love of football like my fellow Baton Rouge friends. LSU is THE team here. I don’t like the glitz and the big time atmosphere of LSU football. I always love the underdog. I like the simple things in life. I like the small town heroes. I like the feeling of building something. I’m not the kind of gal whose attracted to energy – the magic – of something already famous. I’m attracted to the magic of miracle. I had no clue that Southeastern was nationally ranked that night I journeyed to McNeese, but I enjoyed the game … and we won. Most importantly, I felt the magic.
Southeastern lost in the playoffs last night 20-17 to a New Hampshire team in Strawberry Stadium. The magic ended with 46 seconds left in the game when New Hampshire scored the winning touchdown. Our Lions tried their guts out to get it back, but for some reason this season was meant to end on Hammond turf. If they’d won, the next game would have been in North Dakota, and the National Championship would be played in Frisco, TX. Part of the magic of this season was that four of the last games were home games including the two playoff games. If you build it, THEY will come……
I have often thought of coaches as magicians. As an athlete, I’ve seen how they take raw material and make something out of it. Coaches have the power to change hearts. Some years its just hard work with no sense of accomplishment. But, some seasons …those magical seasons that we all live for… magic happens that brings together the right group of people with the right set of circumstances at the right time. That’s why I love playing sports. It CAN be fertile ground for magic. Southeastern’s coach Ron Roberts has been a magician. He’s a lover of community. I personally believe that magic ONLY happens in community. This was his second year, and people are already fearfully whispering that he might leave one day. With this season, his magic has produced a team that has helped to heal wounds that go deep in our football community because of the “gap.” College football is all about building continuing community to grow a team with funds, support, knowledge and magic. If you build it, they will come …..
Last night, Gretchen mentioned that the turf that we played on in Strawberry Stadium this year was the Saint’s turf. “Really,” I asked. I giggled and replied, “OMG, that’s where the magic comes from. It’s in the turf!” I was sort of making light of it, but, really, where does magic come from? Could it come from turf that laid under the feet of our beloved Saints’ in the Superdome across the swamp? I think all kinds of magic happened this year at Southeastern. I think we had a coach who had a vision and a love for people that created a fertile environment for change. An Oregon quarterback that needed a place to play his senior year had studied with Archie Manning, an iconic Saints’ hero, and used him as a sounding board on where to go. Football alumni that were hungry for their old community needed a reason to return. Magical energy snowballed and attracted long lost fans like me to come back and sizzle in the excitement of watching a miracle happen. And, it grew into a firestorm. If you build it, they will come…
I let the magic take hold of me. For the first time in years, I sat in a football stadium in the rain and cold to watch a team play. It never crossed my mind to miss it. I would have gone in a blizzard. I reconnected with old friends from the community that I supported in school. I ate gumbo and sauce picante under a tent in Friendship Circle in the searing heat, the rain and the freezing cold. The weather here, apparently…… is unfazed by magic. I dropped way too much money on green and gold fan gear. I started thinking of spending my hard-earned money to travel to Frisco TX, a place I’m sure I would have never visited otherwise. My friends and I joked of being arrested for the first time in Southeastern history scalping tickets. I watched as the football community posted pic after pic of the “old days”. I saw all of us start to pepper our conversations and our FB posts with “Lion Up!”. I started to attach to a community when I’ve only been back here for less than six months. Believe me when I say THAT is magic. Last night, as I sat in a football stadium donned in a camouflage poncho … yes, me in camouflage … in the rain and cold, mesmerized by the magic that team was creating on the field and in my life, I realized I had changed.
I don’t know where the magic lies. I don’t really care. Somewhere in the universe I believe the magicians looked at Southeastern and said, “it’s time. If you build it, they will come …” Who are they? I believe that the magic was created for those Lion football players that never had a chance to take the field. They know who they are. They are the ghosts that never scored. They are the veterans of World War II that were fighting for our country and didn’t get to play. They are the unrecruited, unpracticed and untried young men that should have played in the “gap” years. I believe they played this year. I believe their hearts and souls were attracted to the magic of this 2013 team. It started when a group of football alumni worked their tails off to get football back in Strawberry Stadium. They knew the payoff, and they knew the wound. I thank them for their vision. If you build it, they will come ….
From all of us who basked in your magic this year, I say thank you to the 2013 Lions Football team. You are all magicians, and you changed us forever. No matter where or on what field of life you create magic in your future, we will be there. If you build it, we will come .…..Lion Up!