I felt them when I braved the long lines and left the University of South Carolina’s central social hub (the Russell House) with my first Gamecock student football ticket.
Before that, the chills came on full bore as I emerged from a darkened tunnel to see the packed stands of Old Yankee Stadium for the first and last time.
And as a young lad, the chills appeared in the form of goose-flesh when the Cincinnati Gardens’ arena lights cut off and The Undertaker made his slow walk to the wrestling ring. The beer spilled on my dad and me minutes before barely phased this lifelong professional wrestling fan. All it took was a single wash to remove the stale-beer smell from my Bret “Hitman” Hart t-shirt afterall.
But the most recent time I felt chills? When the Scotland High School marching band marched across the Pate Stadium field for the first week of the regular season.
I’ve had the chance to see some of the best high school marching bands in the country during my years as a sports writer, bands that drew nearly as many fans to their respective stadiums as the teams playing every Friday night. But never have I seen a marching band represent a culture like the kilt-clad, bagpipe-playing collective that signaled the arrival of the 2012 Fighting Scots season.
Suffice to say, I learned pretty quickly about the proud Scottish heritage lying at the heart of Scotland County from day one. And seeing that awesome display drove it home more effectively than word of mouth ever could.
But of equal importance was what the band’s opening performance represented to me as the sports editor of the Laurinburg Exchange. I was brought here for this moment: To utilize my sports fandom, knowledge and experience to document the local sports community and capture the energy surrounding the Fighting Scots’ quest to defend their 2011 4-A state championship season.
That moment finally arrived August 17th as the Fighting Scots hosted Seventy First. And it felt in many ways like a full-circle moment as I made my way up to the press box (while trying not to look out of shape) and was greeted by several familiar faces that I’ve encountered on my various sports-related adventures.
While I was equipped with an energy drink the size of a small dog, I honestly didn’t need it. I was pumped.
And make no mistake: My attention is equally drawn to the Scotland County schools’ fall sports lineup as a whole too.
The Scotland junior and varsity volleyball teams have been quietly building a perennial powerhouse over the past seven years. And for the freshmen and sophomore Fighting Scots athletes looking for their chance to shine, coach Colin McDavid’s varsity boys soccer squad is perhaps the best platform for them to compete at a consistently high level. St. Andrews University has a slew of unproven yet hungry coaches and players ready to make an impact as new members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). And let’s not forget that the future of Scotland County sports is being developed every single day at the local area elementary and middle schools as well.
Typing that previous paragraph makes me want to check my mailbox again to see if the clone of myself that I ordered months ago has arrived yet. Still no luck.
The bottom line is that I’m looking for more chill-worthy moments to experience, and most importantly, share with all of the readers of this newspaper. Because while I listed my first Fighting Scots football game as the most recent example, I’ve had plenty of other similar moments in my time here, moments that I could list but won’t for the sake of brevity.
But just thinking about them and what’s to come makes me want to buy a kilt.