by Chris Hartley, director of athletics
I grew up in a small town in upstate New York. My parents were high school sweethearts from an even smaller town upstate. My dad ran track and was the quarterback for the football team. My mom was a cheerleader. So, my family (I am the middle of three boys) always enjoyed sports. One of my favorite pictures is one when I was about eight years old. My brothers and I are in a football stance with my mom playing quarterback behind us. I am smiling thinking about that picture right now.
That context helps to explain why I used to be so excited on Friday nights when I was in elementary school. Imagine a cool, crisp fall evening. After eating dinner, my dad and I would bundle up and head out the door. We were headed to our local high school’s football game. The field was less than a quarter mile from our house, and I could see the glow of the stadium lights the moment we left the house. As we walked, we talked about the team and the opponent. My next-door neighbor who babysat us sometimes was one of the stars of the team. I talked about my hopes for him having an incredible game.
Those nights were magical for me. I dreamed of one day playing on the field under the lights. Happily, that dream came true. I played varsity football for two years. It was a highlight of my time in high school. Reflecting back on the games I attended with my dad, I realize that I was drawn to those Friday nights because I wanted to be a part of that community; I wanted to celebrate the high school that I would soon call my own; I loved cheering for my team and loved being surrounded by people who shared that affinity.
Fast forward to my work with athletics at Lakeside. I love the work I do because I still get excited about cheering on teams and athletes. I love when our fans come out wearing their Lakeside apparel and supporting our teams. High school sports have a quality of fun and excitement that is far more intimate than college sports. Because Lakeside is a smaller community, our fans authentically know the athletes and that creates a sense of school spirit that is strong and positive.
Lakeside tailgates were re-envisioned in 2011, with the goal of building school spirit and coming together as a community to experience the wonder and excitement that exists at high school athletics events. We invite everyone who is associated with Lakeside – students in all grades, parents and guardians, alumni, faculty, and staff – to come out and enjoy an afternoon or evening in community. No matter how much (or little) you care about the action on the field or court, you will be in community with great people. Conversations are joyful, friendships are strengthened, and new connections are created.
And when our team does something exciting, I guarantee that all who are present will feel that surge of excitement that I felt when I was with my dad in the stands watching my Vestal High School Golden Bears compete.
When you come to a tailgate you will be treated to some free food (thank you Parents and Guardians Association), opportunities to purchase Lakeside apparel, and free entertainment (where else can you find that in Seattle?). In addition to providing our fans with a great experience on tailgate days, our athletes and coaches are so excited when the crowds are big and cheering them on. So please accept this invitation to attend, connect, and be part of Lakeside school spirit.
Our fall tailgate is Friday, Oct. 25 and will highlight our volleyball program. The JV team plays at 3:30 p.m. The varsity match will start at 5 p.m. Both teams are playing Seattle Prep. If you are up for more that night, you can swing by Ingraham High School to watch our football team play Ingraham in at 7 p.m. – both teams will be at “home”, so we’d love to get a big crowd there.
Our winter tailgate will be on Friday, Dec. 13 and feature our girls and boys varsity basketball teams. The girls start at 7 p.m.; the boys at 8:30 p.m. Stay tuned for information about the spring tailgate later this year.
I hope to see you all at the tailgates (and many more competitions).
Chris Hartley is director of athletics at Lakeside School. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.