Opinion

Bob Mitchell: Wildcat Booster Club 42 years old

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

So far as athletic programs at Cassville R-4 are concerned, nearly their biggest asset is the Wildcat Booster Club, which was really formed 42 years ago during the football season. There had been a number of “rag-a-muffin” organizations that attempted to accomplish a purpose earlier but had failed.

Don Carr hadn’t been in town long after getting his Kentucky Fried Chicken started until he approached me about putting on a steak dinner for the football squad. Immediately there were those who thought he was just selling KFC, however the menu served was steak. My memory doesn’t serve well enough to come up with the number cooked, but we started early and got the job done.

A part of this story is the fact that Don’s sons, Jim and Mike were an important part of the team in those days, having good and fair seasons, but he wanted them to have everything possible to enjoy their season.

Far cry from 1946

This project was a far cry from the season that resumed football for the Wildcats in 1946 when a collection downtown financed the purchase of equipment due to the school district being strapped for funds. This fund barely got the necessary equipment, had goal posts installed (courtesy Frank Snider Welding Shop), built benches on the sidelines for the teams, and bought a few footballs.

There were no numbers on the jerseys, no names, no programs for the games, and before each practice session we had a rock and dried cow pile pickup since the field was once a rodeo arena.

No fancy bleachers were provided for spectators. They either stood or were provided parking places along some sidelines, providing they arrived early enough.

There was no concession stand for refreshments, so if spectators had refreshments, they brought it with them.

Anyone old enough to remember this beginning year can recall the unfortunate incident that occurred following the Sarcoxie-Cassville game, which might well be a story that stands alone in the Wildcat history, which just might be a follow-up story one of these days.

Salute to Wildcats

Now in the pages of history of the Wildcats is the sports coverage that began just after the season of 1953 in the pages of the Cassville Democrat. That’s when sports first appeared on the front page and later achieved a page or section in coverage.

There have been three football fields on the campus leading up to the one enjoyed by today’s Wildcats.

Wildcat accomplishments in recent years have included ranking high in the state, winning a couple of state championships and holding their own or above in district and regional finishes.

New facilities, field house, lighting, bleacher expansion, rest room replacement and new Booster operated concession facility have tremendously benefitted the program. Also there is a new track that rounds the field for track, plus a new scoreboard providing better information for those attending games.

Coaches come and go

Over history, coaches have come and coaches have gone, but none have held the successful tenure of Coach Parnell. He holds the longest running season success story in Wildcat history.

Wildcat game history holds seasons that included victories over Springfield schools and some good programs out of Arkansas. Their program is known on four corners around the region. Undoubtedly, I will be joined by all those Wildcat fans that enjoy donning the black and gold on Friday nights in wishing the Wildcats’ continued progress and success.

My apology

There is an apology due the current Wildcats from one who played on the team that returned football to CHS. I haven’t seen a game in three years, and there is a real reason why.

Since reaching age 91, it is impossible for me to walk the distance from parking facilities to the bleachers.

Three or four years ago I pulled up to the parking area behind the bleachers with a friend who was in the same condition. The locked gate made the parking area inaccessible to us, so I blinked the headlights and a faculty member, an administrator, came to the gate inquiring if we had a parking permit. Showing him the handicap plaque, he said that wasn’t sufficient.

Hearing this, my passenger and I decided if he would let us in to turn around, we would leave, and he did, during which we noticed plenty of parking spaces.

I’ve never returned to a Wildcat game after this incident, for which I give the Wildcats a sincere apology and wish them much continued success in the future.

For the rest of you

Continue doing as suggested by the folks who know about this virus pandemic and hope the political forces of this country will get the vaccines out for their intended use, curing the virus. In the meantime, follow prescribed guidelines, remember, we are all in this together!

Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat. He is a 2017 inductee to both the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame and Missouri Southern State University’s Regional Media Hall of Fame.