By Wendy Burton
Phoenix staff writer
From very large seniors to very small kindergartners, cheerleaders and football players packed the Fort Gibson High School field house Monday evening.
Cheering Fort Gibsonites were introduced to the Tigers of all ages at the annual Meet the Tigers Night.
High School Head Coach James Singleton introduced each football or cheer team coach, and every student was named for the energetic audience.
“I think it’s great for our kids and our community for everyone to come out and support these football players and cheerleaders,” Singleton said. “These kids all put a lot of hours in behind the scenes, and they should be recognized.”
The big event also is an annual fundraiser for the seventh- through 12th-grade ball teams, he said.
“This year our booster club bought brand new uniforms for our middle school team, equipment, they provide meals before away games, lots of things that help our program immensely,” Singleton said.
There was a special dinner sold, a silent auction and a live auction to raise funds at Monday’s event.
As families and friends entered the field house they were greeted enthusiastically by four teen football players: Jonah Bybee, 15, Jonathon Link, 16, Blake Henson, 15, and Jared Cornelius, 15.
The enthusiastic bunch was begging passersby to bid on the silent auction tables they were in charge of, featuring such donated items as board game packages and candy, kitchen supplies, Fort Gibson-themed “Mohawk” hats, a rotisserie oven and Scentsy items.
The boys told potential bidders they needed their bids to win a day off from practice, so they could lounge in the shade and watch their teammates sweat one afternoon — at least that was their sales pitch.
“Hey. Hey you. Come over here and buy this rotisserie. You know you want it,” one yelled.
“Please, please, please,” said another. “We can get a day off of practice.”
In the gymnasium, live auction items lined the wall, while the lower bleachers were filled with football players and cheerleaders of all ages and the upper stands were filled with noisy Tiger fans.
The introductions began with the littlest players and cheerleaders and moved up through the ages, ending with the varsity team introductions.
“We invite our youth league guys so they feel like a part of our program,” Singleton said. “We’ll be coaching these kids in middle school some day, and it’s a really good relationship we have between the two groups.”
Singleton, just before introducing his 10th- through 12th-grade varsity players, said he’s really excited about his third year of coaching at Fort Gibson.
“We are really excited and think we have a great chance to have a really special season for Fort Gibson,” he said. During his introduction of the varsity team, Singleton told the crowd he knows the players are fully committed and could be the next state champions.
“We required these guys to come to Summer Pride all summer, with only four days allowed to be missed,” he said. “And we had 98 percent attendance all summer long. That shows how committed they are to this season, to this program.”
Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or firstname.lastname@example.org.