As soon as the Sandpoint High School football team qualified for the state championship last month, Barb Hecker went into action.
The mother of senior running back Cody Hecker organized a charter bus to bring as many fans as possible to the championship game at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow.
“I went on one (charter bus) in 2003 to Pocatello for a playoff game,” Hecker said. “It was a lot of fun and good bonding for parents and community supporters.”
When word got out that Hecker was organizing a bus for fans, her phone rang off the hook.
“I had people calling and telling me their stories of when they played for the Bulldogs years ago or how they have attended the games for years,” Hecker said. “People were so glad to have a bus and not have to drive late at night. I also think that the community was so excited and got wrapped up with this team. There were so many great athletes and no superstars. They all worked together as a team.”
Sandpoint may have lost the game, but the Bulldogs won the hearts of many football fans.
Ray Belote, 72, is a Sandpoint resident who has attended almost all the home games over the last 40 years.
“I’ve gone to some of the away games too,” said Belote, who graduated from Sandpoint High School in 1955 and played on the football team.
He and three friends drove to Pocatello in 2003 – the last time the Sandpoint Bulldogs played for (and lost) the championship. He was in Boise in 1997 when the Bulldogs last won the state championship.
Watching the kids play brings back memories of when he was a player.
“We had a pretty good winning record (when he was in high school),” said Belote, who also attends many of the high school basketball games. “I played end at that time, which I guess is wide receiver now.”
Belote said he is always amazed at how much bigger and faster the players are now in comparison to when he was playing. “And smarter,” he adds.
Bob and Wanda Gooby also took advantage of the charter bus. Bob Gooby is a 1953 graduate of Sandpoint High and has attended basketball and volleyball games throughout the years.
“We are interested in the team and it was a nice opportunity to go and watch them,” said Bob Gooby. “It was a nice little adventure.”
The Goobys enjoy going to the games and following the kids, some of whom they know and others they don’t.
“There are two things that take place (when you go to the games),” said Bob Gooby. “First you see the kids and watch them grow up and second we always see a group of people who we’ve known for a long time and we visit with them.”
“We just love the kids,” said Wanda Gooby.
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