- July 1, 2020
One hundred five years ago, in 1915, the Campbell Soup Company began marketing their famous Alphabet Soup. For decades that followed kids ate their soup while at the same time spelling their name with the letter-shaped noodles contained within. Today those fun, friendly letters can only be found in Campbell’s Vegetarian Vegetable. About twenty years
One hundred five years ago, in 1915, the Campbell Soup Company began marketing their famous Alphabet Soup. For decades that followed kids ate their soup while at the same time spelling their name with the letter-shaped noodles contained within. Today those fun, friendly letters can only be found in Campbell’s Vegetarian Vegetable.
About twenty years later the South Williamsport High School football team began playing their home games at what is now called Rodney K. Morgan’s Stadium, affectionately, or infamously depending upon your point of view, known as ‘The Pit.’ While the Mountaineers have called it home for nearly ninety years, the leagues they have played in could closely resemble those Campbell Soup products.
Just as those youngsters learned from their soup diet, I’ll leave it up to you to decode their many conference affiliations. But alphabetically listed South Williamsport’s football teams have at one time or another played in the CSC, HAC, MPC, NTL, SVC and the WBC. Now, perhaps similar to Campbell’s re-packaging, the Mountaineers will be spooning for their opponents once again in the NTL.
The past several years South Williamsport has been playing in the HAC-III (Heartland Athletic Conference – Division III). It is a very competitive league and although South has been in the smaller school division, they have had cross-over games with a lot of the larger schools. The HAC is comprised of a lot of very good programs. The larger schools in our area all play in the HAC which have made things difficult.
While all the schools in our area have been dealing with the effects of the pandemic, none have also had to deal with preparations to play in a new conference. South Williamsport’s veteran coach, Chris Eiswerth, looks forward to the fresh challenge awaiting his team this fall.
“We’re excited to be going to play in the Northern Tier League,” Eiswerth explained. “The NTL is a very proud, very successful conference. They have a lot of teams every year that qualify for the playoffs. I teach in Troy and they have had some great seasons. Athens is a large competitive school. Wellsboro, we’ve had some huge battles with them and they have been magnificent. Canton has a great tradition and they’ve had their way with us the last couple of years. We know we are going to have to continue to prepare and work hard because it is going to be very difficult.
“We are still classified as a AA school this year and all the projections going forward for the next ten years indicate that we will remain either AA or A, but we won’t be increasing in enrollment. The move to the NTL makes sense for us. It is a well-run competitive conference comprised of schools more similar to us than those making up the HAC.”
Like every other football coach gearing up to go as the green light flickers, the past three months and the new protocols awaiting his team have taken their toll.
“The best word to describe it is ‘stressful’, emphasized Eiswerth. “I’ve talked to other coaches around the area and everyone feels pretty much the same. We are saddened by the baseball and softball teams losing their seasons because we know those kids have worked extremely hard and it’s been especially devastating for the seniors. It’s made everything stop and I think it has heightened the stress level in everyone, parents, relatives, the kids who participate and the coaches. It is has just been a feeling of helplessness.
“Our society has come to know athletics as something that’s been steadfast. It’s something that can be enjoyed and, I guess you could say, takes the edge off of life sometimes. When that outlet is taken away it can be difficult to fill the void. Most people see coaching as what happens on the field, but what we’ve missed are the opportunities we’ve always had to reach out, help, advise and mentor young people away from the playing field. Those kinds of things happen in the weight room, or in meetings, where we can talk to kids about things going on in their lives. Even though we haven’t missed playing any football games; these past three months have taken away those kinds of opportunities.
“We are all learning as we go as to how to safely proceed. At South Williamsport all the head coaches met with the athletic director to go over the guidelines that have been set. We have a lot more protocols to follow. At South we can’t have more than 20 players in the weight room at one time; the cleaning of the materials we use must be done after each use; hard-washing will be stressed; attendance must be taken; the coaches must be checked for symptoms, if any are found they have to go home; and the players have to have waivers from their parents before they will be permitted to participate. This are all steps being taken for safety, but these are things we will gladly do to allow the games to be played.
“We have been told – at this point- when we go back to play that there will not be any fans in the stands. That could change by the time the season begins. All we can do is support those things the athletic directors are asking us to do. It is all aimed at stopping the spread of the virus and we are all going to have to do things we may not want to do to help achieve the number one goal of keeping everyone healthy. It will be different, but at least the kids will be able to play.”
Let’s all help follow the protocols so that those games can begin.