Lord Tweedsmuir hosted its first night football game Oct. 14.
“LT senior varsity football (held) its first ‘Friday Night Lights’ game vs New West,” Rick Hugh, a counsellor at Lord Tweedsmuir, told the Cloverdale Reporter via email. “Our athletic director (Brien Gemmell) brought in banks of stadium lighting, food trucks, and music.”
Tweedsmuir teacher Walter van Halst filmed the game and helped with some of the game’s set up and take down.
“What an amazing experience for the kids, teachers, coaches, and fans. I thought it was magical. It was historic,” said van Halst.
Gemmell said Randy Lebedow was instrumental in putting the night together. Gemmell, Lebedow, and all the coaches spent Thursday (Oct. 13) setting up seven gigantic lighting blocks to illuminate the Tweedy football field.
”This idea of a night game was well in the works three years ago, but got put on hold for obvious reasons,” explained Gemmell. “Randy Lebedow, who is part of our football program parent group was a huge part of this endeavour.”
Gemmell said it was Lebedow’s vision that helped make it happen. He said Lebedow did the main leg work too, in terms of getting the light towers and booking the food trucks.
“We did our part as an athletic department and school to make it happen on our end,” added Gemmell. “It took a lot people from our parent group, coaching staff on both teams, to school staff, to district personnel, to make it finally happen.
”It was a great night that saw our student body, staff, and many alumni and community members come out for an evening of football under the lights at Lord Tweedsmuir.”
Van Halst said ever since the movie “Friday Night Lights” came out, a game on the gridiron under lights has worked its way into the mythology of high school football at schools across North America.
“Football, really, is linked to this notion of ‘Friday Night Lights.’ It is a spectacle,” van Halst added.
“Playing games at night makes the sport more accessible to more people,” he explained. “It makes it more of an event, but also a lot of parents can attend the games. Whereas, if the game was being played in the afternoon, say at 3:30, many parents couldn’t make it out to watch.”
He said the portable lights were an “incredibly innovative” idea. He thought the night was so well received, any future events will be a big success.
“I’ve never seen a crowd of that size at the field,” said van Halst. “By far, the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen at a high school football game at Lord Tweedsmuir.”
He thought word got out about the game over social media, but once the lights went on, van Halst said he thinks they also attracted a lot of drivers-by.
“People driving up or down the hill, who went to our school in the past five to 10 years, and especially those connected with football, said, ‘What the hell? When did we get lights? What is going on?’ And out of curiosity, many doubled back around and pulled into the school and walked down the hill to check out the game.”
Food trucks were on site and the school also set up a booth to take in donations to the Terry Fox Fund.
“Between the lights and music—and just the novelty of playing at night, the large crowd, the game going back and forth, the home team winning—it turned into a special night that created lasting memories for both the players and the fans.”
The game itself was a slugfest that went back and forth as each team shared the lead throughout the game. LT eventually emerged victorious, winning by 8 points, 36-28.
“It was a real morale booster,” added van Halst. “No matter what happens this year, those players will take that night away from the season as a lasting memory.”
Gemmell said they will try to bring the night game back next season if they can get all the pieces to fall into place again.
“If we do it next year, it will definitely be earlier in the year, probably early September,” Gemmell said. “We also want to be mindful of our neighbour and have the lights off and noise curtailed by decent hour.”
Gemmell added Tweedy will be play another football first on Oct. 22.
“We’re going to have our first Saturday game at home.”
Lord Tweedsmuir will kick off against Centennial at 1:30 at the school grounds.
“We’ll also have food trucks on site and would love to see the community come out and support the team.”