Super Fans Unveil Wild Traditions
To Jay and Jeanine Gully, being Edmond Santa Fe High School football fans is just a way of life. The Gullys have been “fanatical” supporters of Santa Fe for nearly a decade, and that’s not about to change, even though their oldest son, Chris, graduated last year.
“We started, I guess, when Chris was in about the third grade, and he graduated last year,” Jeanine Gully said. “We knew that’s where our children were going to go to school, so we started following and supporting the football team, and that continued all the time Chris and his older sister were going to Santa Fe.”
But Chris finished his career at Santa Fe last year, and the Gullys are still packing up their recreational vehicle and hosting weekly tailgate parties for a half-dozen other families. They have followed the Santa Fe football team all over the state for more than a decade and are keeping the tradition alive this year – even following the Wolves to Bastrop, Louisiana for this year’s season opener.
“It’s something we just really enjoy, and we do still have a younger son, Jake, who will most likely be going to Santa Fe someday,” Jeanine said. “We have some great friends we’ve made through the years at the tailgate parties, and that’s something we just plan on doing from now on.”
They’ve tailgated all over Oklahoma, frequently making the trip to Lawton and even to Tulsa. A few years ago they even hosted a tailgate party on the top level of the parking garage at the University of Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium during the Class 6A state playoffs.
The Gullys aren’t by any means the only Santa Fe parents who enjoy a little pre-game party. They are frequently joined by more than a half-dozen other families, including Vern and Sally Smith, Pat Reeves, the Harris family, Cathy Knight and many of the wives of current Santa Fe football coaches.
Up the road a bit at Edmond North High School, it’s the Blue Crew that makes the noise and puts on a pre-game parking lot show, as they rally support for the Huskies every week. Made up of nearly a dozen high school students, many of them members of the wrestling team, the Blue Crew also hosts weekly tailgate parties and even sells its own T-shirts.
“My older brother was the president of the first crew about four or five years ago, and now I’ve kind of taken on that role,” said Conner Robinson, a North senior. “We use my dad’s RV and host a tailgate party every week, rain or shine, home or away. We get out there about 5:30 and I grill whatever we have that week and then we go in the stadium, park on the front row and make a lot of noise.”
The Blue Crew started selling T-shirts last year as a way to help fund their efforts and a way to build up team spirit. This year, they’re again selling T-shirts to those who want to be “honorary” members of the Crew. They also add a little “color” to their Friday nights in different ways.
“We usually paint up our chest and face, writing ‘Go Huskies’ on our chests for the games,” he said. “And we’ll probably continue to do that into November and December, although it does get a little colder out there.”
Over at Edmond Memorial, tailgate parties are also a weekly occurrence as Kenton Panas and his co-horts gather to grill, laugh, and dress in some rather unusual game clothing to support the Bulldogs.
“It can get a little crazy sometimes,” Panas said. “But that’s what makes it fun. We get out there in the afternoon, throw a grill or two in the back of the truck, and chill out and wait for the game.
“But I think what makes our thing a little different is that you really never know what we’re going to wear to the game,” he said. “Like one time this year I dressed up in some really short shorts with a scarf around my neck and long striped soccer socks and no shirt. We just throw together whatever we think will get some attention and make it sort of crazy,” he said.
Panas is responsible for creating the spirit sign that the football team runs through every week when they first fire out onto the field. He usually tailgates in the parking lot at home games and on the road with seven or eight other students, including Braden McCaleb and Nate Johnson. He said the crowd seems to somehow grow “magically” when he fires up the grill.
“Yeah, it’s sort of weird that all these people just start showing up when the burgers or the chicken start cooking on the grill,” he laughed. “Sometimes people show up that we really don’t even know, but it’s cool.”