By Ryan Lengerich
While the defending state champions were still tossing on shoulder pads and pacing past lockers, high in the home side bleachers four women waited impatiently.
Tucumcari football was minutes from a new beginning.
In the top row, left of the press box 20 minutes prior to the teams annual Purple and Gold Scrimmage, Sandra Anaya, Judy Booth, Devin Beall and Sandra’s mother Dora laughed like they were at a reunion. In many ways they were.
“This is where you really make your little town dreams,” Booth said. “This is it you know, you ain’t going to get this in a bigger town.”
For them, Tucumcari football is more than a Friday night activity, it’s a lifestyle. Anaya said she has been following the team for about 15 years and won’t miss a game.
“We’re right here, I have my cowbell and man that thing doesn’t stop,” Anaya said.
Anaya and Booth said it is not just them but the whole city that backs the team.
“The town supports this so much,” Booth said. “On Friday’s you can walk into any business in this town and everybody is wearing purple and gold.”
The big town schools have too much glitz and show, Booth said, adding that last year the Tucumcari band played at all the games despite loosing the director to an Amarillo, Tex. school. She said that for some of these players, football is their life.
“It’s all they got, they don’t have anything,” she said. “This is what they got and they make the best of it.”
These fans certainly have much to cheer for after the schools first championship in nearly 50 years. And they are not deterred by the loss of several key players to graduation, including the quarterback Sam Nunn.
“That is okay, they brought in fresh new meat,” Anaya said. “You know the other ones that have all the experience are going to train them in the way it should be and then they will be good.”
Booth said having the championship game in Tucumcari last year was a nice benefit, but that the fans would have traveled anywhere to see the kids play. She is predicting another state championship victory.
“They have too much heart not too,” she said.
For Tucumcari, last year’s title was less about glory and more about pride.
“These kids wanted it and they worked hard and they got it and they are so proud of themselves,” Booth said. “And the whole town is proud of them.”