2016-11-24 / Sports

Community rallies behind Lakers

A Column By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

BRIAN AND DEB Johnston of Maple City don’t have any children at Glen Lake, but they bundled up for Glen Lake’s semi-final win over Pine River. BRIAN AND DEB Johnston of Maple City don’t have any children at Glen Lake, but they bundled up for Glen Lake’s semi-final win over Pine River. Once a Laker, always a Laker.

So say the faithful Glen Lake football fans who bundled up and turned out in droves to support their hometown team in the Snow Bowl that was Thirlby Field Saturday afternoon.

I say Snow Bowl because that’s what it looked like when the Glen Lake football team suited up during the first measurable snowfall of the winter of 2016- 17.

While grounds crew busily plowed snow from the turf, Tammy Both, a 1989 Glen Lake grad, was among the first to stake out a spot on the northern bleachers at the field.

Both was quite a basketball player in the 1980s and her sons Hunter and Zack have grown up in the Glen Lake football program. Hunter graduated in June and Zack plays guard/defensive tackle on this year’s squad, which will be playing Friday in the state Division 6 football championship at Ford Field.

She’s a “football mom.”

Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the tote bag given to her by friend Cindy Landers of Cedar. It says “football mom.”

“I’ve got blankets, water … and hand warmers. You want some hand warmers?”

At first I declined, but thought better of it and took her up on the offer. I’m glad I did.

Although I didn’t graduate from Glen Lake (T-C St. Francis ‘82) I am the mother of three Lakers who graduated in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

We were a School of Choice family and were drawn to Glen Lake in part, because of the football program.

My son, Tim, got involved almost immediately in the Pop Warner at Glen Lake. He was part of Laker football just as coach Jerry Angers was hired to resuscitate the program.

Among the many football families we met were Brian and Deb Johnston of Maple City.

Their involvement and interest in Glen Lake football dates back to the late 1990s/early 2000s when Deb’s son, Chris Pfeiffer, played for the Laker team.

More recently, their son and daughter, Jake and Katie Johnston, were involved in the Laker football program. Jake, a 2011 Glen Lake grad, was on the Laker squad early in coach Jerry Angers’ tenure.

Katie, a 2013 graduate, served as an athletic trainer for the team in high school. But I remember her as a little girl in pigtails jumping around along the sidelines — black and white pompoms in hand.

“I promised Katie I’d keep her updated,” Deb said, texting on her phone with fingers numb with cold during halftime of Saturday’s game. “Our older daughter, Bridgett, who went to Glen Lake when Chris did, has also asked for updates.”

Chris Pfeiffer, now living in Columbus, Ohio, is the coach of his son’s Pee Wee Pop Warner football team.

Bone-chilling cold, snow and strong winds may have deterred some from coming out to support our local boys.

But not the Johnstons. They were among a good number of people attending the game to support the team, even though they no longer have a direct connection to the school.

“It wasn’t so bad. I really wasn’t bothered much until halftime when Brian went to get me some hot chocolate,” Johnston said. “He was my windbreak.”

Other Laker fans not able to make the trip Saturday waited eagerly for friends to update the scores on Facebook.

One of these people is Betty Welch of Empire. A 1964 Glen Lake graduate, Welch is a longtime Laker fan.

“I’ve always been big on Glen Lake athletics,” she said.

During the Lakers’ 1994 championship football run, Welch would bring the team Tootsie pops before contests. The suckers appeared to have brought Glen Lake good luck, so she continued to give ‘pop presents and became known as the “Lucky Laker Lollipop Lady.”

Welch and Johnston will not be making the trip down to Ford Field Friday. But they’ll both be glued to their television sets watching their hometown team and cheering them on to victory.

“Once a Laker, always a Laker,” Johnston said.

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