When one looks back over their life, sometimes you see things you'd like to do over. But, as we know, there are no do-overs. We don't get to go back in time like in the movies. There's no instant replay for our lives. What happens is there. Good and bad.
One of the things I realized this weekend when Syracuse scheduled its 40th reunion of its undefeated football team of 1969, is that I really didn't have much of an idea of what most of the players, and many of my graduating classmates of 1970, were doing with their lives.
Probably on one hand, could I tell you where they went to college, whether or not they were married, if they had children, or how many? In some cases, I didn't know where they lived until we did an intensive Internet search to find members of that unbeaten team.
It was more than a year ago when I broached the subject of the reunion with two members of that team, and they both still live in my hometown, Syracuse. It takes a lot of time to organize one of these reunions but I don't believe there are any regrets.
From late Friday afternoon to Sunday morning, it felt like we were in a time warp. There were 40 members on the football team that year and six of them had died earlier than we would have liked. Of the remaining 34, 17 were at the Syracuse-Stanton County game to watch the Bulldogs win against their next door county rival for the first time in nine years.
We were also fortunate, and blessed, to have the two coaches that led that group of players — Jerry Yeutter and Ray Seib — and their wives, in attendance. Many will remember Ray more so than Jerry because he (Yeutter) was only in Syracuse for a brief four-year stint as the football coach. Seib was also the SHS track coach and eventually coached at Barton County.
The team was honored at halftime of the Syracuse-Stanton County game, then hosted a reception in the high school. After that, the group enjoyed retelling stories that brought laughter, and yes, sometimes tears, to each of us.
At our Saturday dinner, we heard from a sophomore, junior and senior member of the football team, then the two coaches. All had poignant memories of that special year in our lives. However, it was coach Yeutter who brought the entire weekend into clarity for us as he always seemed to do. For an instance, we had been transported back four decades.
He talked about respect. He talked about encouragement. He talked about hard work. He talked about commitment. He talked about being prepared and being in great physical condition. He talked about love for each other. Most of all, though, he talked about partnership. That partnership, between he and coach Seib, the players, school cheerleaders, pep club, the students and community at-large, all played a role in that undefeated/untied season, the only one in school history.
For a brief weekend, the 1969 Bulldogs were back on the field, winning the close games and dominating the rest of their Hi-Plains League opponents. It was a team blessed with speed, toughness and an unbending will to win. It has become a brotherhood over time and for that snippet of time, we were high schoolers once again.
And I think we would all do it over in a heartbeat.
Sports Editor Brett Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.