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Richard Banas II Let prep sports bask in the limelight

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Richard Banas II

Posted: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 12:00 am

Recently, I covered Tokay High’s “home” football opener on the road against Bear Creek at McNair High School and was impressed how the Tiger fans turned out considering the game was not held at Tokay’s traditional home field, the Grape Bowl.

The same thing happened last Friday when Lodi played its own “home” game at McNair.

With the Grape Bowl temporarily out of commission for at least the foreseeable future due to construction delays — which is a shame for everyone involved, no matter who you want to blame — it is obvious the local high schools need our support more than ever.

In a column last New Year’s Eve, I issued a challenge to the community to pack the stands, fill the stadiums and try to sell out every local high school sporting event that was held in 2010.

The Bear Creek-Tokay football game was a sterling example of this and a great start to the beginning of a new school year.

Now, Mark Bechthold, a member of the Tokay Aquatics Boosters Club, wants to continue the spirit of that community challenge to include the annual Lodi-Tokay water polo match on Sept. 22.

And, according to Bechthold, the group is going all out to increase attendance by bringing in high-powered lighting equipment so that the games can be played under the night lights.

“This year’s meeting promises to be like no other water polo event this city has ever seen,” Bechthold said. “Plans are being made to create a spirited atmosphere that is intended to be as substantial as a football or baseball game.”

Bechthold and the Tokay Boosters have the right idea. They get it.

By putting on a spectacle and reaching out to people, the ultimate benefactors of all this are all the kids in the aquatics programs, both at the ticket gate and in the pool.

The group is hoping to attract people in the community who may have never seen a water polo game but are curious as to what the sport is all about.

And why not?

These kids are worth it and the schools deserve it. So let’s get out there and stomp our feet, clap our hands and yell our heads off for whichever team color you are loyal to.

After all, what high school kid wouldn’t love competing in a pool in front of an excited standing-room only crowd under the lights at night?