The Long Wait Is Already Four Games Old
Updated: Mar 31
I never thought it would happen. Barton College did it. They actually did it.
Barton College has a football team. I'll pause for dramatic effect...
Showing up on campus for the first time in August 1995, the idea of Barton having a football team never crossed my mind. Four years later when I graduated in August of 1999, the thought never crossed my mind then either. It seemed like crazy talk to bring it up. The only football we experienced was intramural flag football and playing NCAA Football on PlayStation at the Sig Ep house.
Around 15 years later, I found myself on the alumni board giving back to the college that I love. At one meeting, the topic of funding for an artificial turf field was discussed in hopes to get a lacrosse team at some point in the near future. It would be necessary as the existing natural grass field that the men's and women's soccer teams played on would not be able to stand up to the increased wear and tear.
Athletics Director Todd Wilkinson joined our meeting and discussed where things stood in terms of bids and options. Just this discussion alone was getting me excited. "Wow, are we really stepping up here and about to really do this?" is all I could ask myself while listening to Wilkinson. Then came the Q&A session. I remember asking Wilkinson a question, and I'd bet my lunch that it was football related, you know, doing what I could to stoke the flames. Wilkinson said it was a possibility. That was enough for me. I was calling fraternity brothers and friends on the way home..."YO...Barton could end up with a football team one day!!!"
My rotation on the alumni board ended a few months later and life took me away from Barton. I was changing jobs in Raleigh, beginning to help Inside Pack Sports to cover NC State athletics, and wrapping up my wedding DJ business after 20 years of operation. My wife and I were also getting used to life as parents. Puppy parents that is. We have two Shetland sheep dogs, Logan & Bella.
I will pause again for more dramatic effect...
Fast forward to January 27, 2018. The Barton College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to bring football back to Wilson. When I heard the news that Barton was getting a football team I was ecstatic! They did it! They actually did it! College football is a way of life here in the South. Of course in North Carolina college basketball is a right of passage, but football is a beast in itself. More importantly to a college the size of Barton, it is a gateway for growth. I will come back to this in a future post.
The college made the move to hire Chip Hester from North Carolina A&T to be the first head coach the school has had since 1950. I didn't know much about him outside of reading up on his background and hearing the soundbites. After reaching out to Coach Hester and having a few talks with him, I see why the College selected him. He is aware of the challenges it takes to start a program from the ground up. He exemplifies patience on the sidelines as the team continues to find itself. He continues to stress one thing above all else: Don't give up. No matter how challenging a game gets he is upbeat and looking for the positive view of the situation. That’s a rare thing in our society in 2021 with everything going on.
The Bulldogs are now FOUR games into their inaugural season. Their record is 0-4. A VERY exciting first game vs Erksine, learning moments vs two D2 ranked regulars in Wingate and Lenoir-Rhyne, and another close effort vs Newberry. One might look at the win column being as empty as a grocery store toilet paper shelf in April 2020, but believe me when I say it...
There are very promising things happening.
Each game, play, practice, film session, workout, and so on...it's all a learning moment for our young Bulldogs. These lessons will show up in due time for sure.
We just need patience as a fan base to let things marinate the right way.