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For The Love of The Game - Blue Dragon Style!!!




Rion Rhoades is a very good friend of mine. (And a client of LogicMaze, Disclaimer )

That being said. He is also one of the people I admire and respect most in my life. It is something that started almost 15 years ago. I was a freshman at Hutchinson Community College. I was friends with several members of the football team. I was not good enough (or dedicated enough of a high school football player) to play with these guys, but I hang around several members of the team.

Actually I hung out with the offensive line and the linebackers. If you are in the process of deciding which positions on a football team you should hang out with... O-line and linebackers is a good choice, the biggest and the meanest! Never much concern when I walked into a party. We were gonna be OK!

Anyhow my first impression of Rion was he was quiet and shy and soft-spoken. Not really all that sure he could be this incredible middle linebacker from Liberal, Ks everyone was talking about. Middle Linebackers are mean and rowdy and cuss and fight. That's not the first impression you are gonna get when you meet Rion Rhoades.

Then he strapped on a helmet...


Now Rion is a Church going, father of 3 great kids now, so I hope he can excuse my french, but that was one mean S.O.B. when he strapped his helmet up. He had an incredible ability to completely flip a switch.

Honestly my Mom would go on and on about how "SWEET RION WAS" when he came to our house and then I would watch the guy strap his helmet on so tight that blood came from the chinstrap and completely destroy his own teammates in practice, not too mention what he did to opposing team quarterbacks and running backs.

He was the core and inspiration of a defense on a very accomplished HCC Blue Dragon Football team in 1993-95.

Here's why I bring Rion up..

Rion Rhoades is now the head football coach of the Hutchinson Community College Blue Dragon Football Team. He and his staff give me faith about sports and people and life.

You hear so much negative about sports and "It's all about money" and "Nobody Cares" even on this website I do a section called "For the Love of the Game" cause I feel like very few people still have a true love of a sport and a love of competition.

Rion and his staff still have it, they have it big time.

They still make it a priority to recruit student athletes with character. They put a huge emphasis on education and improving the person before worrying about improving the athlete or the team.

These guys are the perfect example of giving it your all to do the right thing! Not winning by any means necessary.

Do not get me wrong!

These guys want to win...

They love to win... and I will guarantee you, they are gonna win.

But they truly love the game of football and the competition and the kids that put their young lives in their hands more than they love winning.

And that my friends is doing it... "For The Love of The Game"

Thanks guys, you honestly gave me back a little bit of my love for college football.


p.s. if you sit around in Hutch this fall on a Sat. night and bitch about there being nothing to do. Your wrong, these guys are gonna put on some great football games in a top notch facility.

26 comments:

  1. Can't wait for the tailgate!

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  2. I hear ya Sarah,

    Because of how much I respect these guys I have kinda made it my mission to find out why this town doesn't get out and support them more.

    Why isn't the parking lot filled with tailgaters???

    ReplyDelete
  3. Make it a challenge... I promise you there is nothing more entertaining, gorgeous fall evenings, great stadium, some of the best players in the state of Kansas, talk it up - invite your friends! It's really a "community, family event." The last couple of years when we would look around and the stadium had more and more people in it, it just got more and more fun. Rion is an amazing coach but more importantly a great guy - he wants to "add to this community and to kids' lives". Get to know him and his program. Support HCC football! We went to a graduation party last weekend and it was one of his new recruits and it brought tears to your eyes at how he "wouldn't think of playing for anyone else but HCC because of the coach" - his mom totally agreed!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Question: Why isn't the parking lot filled with tailgaters???

    Answer: 2-7

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nate "I'm a supporter" DoggMay 21, 2008 at 10:18 PM

    Mr. Underhill, I really think you might be correct with the record as being a good reason for the low attendence, BUT why was the parking lot and then the rowdy stadium of the 2007 4-12 Kansas City Chiefs full every week?

    I have my opinion about this, but will defer for the time being...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mr. Underhill,

    I think you are partially right, Obviously a winning team sells more tickets...

    I want your opinion on this though:

    I think for years the coaching staffs of most of the sports at HCC have done "ZERO" to connect the teams with the community and vice versa.

    When I was a kid I could tell you every single guys name on the HCC Basketball team, what position they played and where their hometown was. A lot of that had to do with Good people running the show that got those college kids out to our schools. Had them speak to us about ... anything really, they were huge guys that as a grade schooler I thought were giants and super heroes. Then I pestered my parents into going to the games and my parents became fans as did lot's of other folks. So the Sports Arena was full for home games the athletic department had $$$ and community support, recruiting became easier and winning became a part of it.

    You know where that all starts... It starts with bringing in kids that when you take them to a grade school... they speak decent English and they can reasonably talk to grade school kids and inspire them and make them want to be at every game, every Sat night.

    I don't know for a fact but I think that has been missing from the programs at HCC for a while now. I do know for a fact that if it was missing (it was, no doubt in my mind) it all starts with the coaching staff. And I know for a fact this staff will not stand by and let it happen.

    So.. whats the next step...this community has to get behind them.

    This fall they will be undefeated when it all starts Mr Underhill. No excuse to not be at the first game.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Cody,
    I am a full blown football lover. Being a Southern by the Grace of God, with my blood running red and black for the Georgia Bulldawgs, I have been suffering awful football withdrawls since moving to KS. (I know about KS football, but it would be a sin against God for me to cheer for another Div I school.) So, while my family continues to enjoy our season tickets in beautiful Athens, GA; I am looking for my football home away from home.

    I am willing to throw my support to our local Blue Dragons and to be the loudest fan in the stands! What can you tell me about season tickets? A booster club? And how to get the best tailgating spot?

    I am also willing to work with whomever to get a YP night at a football game.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Kate,
    Thanks for your excitement for the game of football and your interest in our program. I would be happy to fill you in on opportunitities that are available to support our program. Please contact me via BlueDragonFootball.com. We are working very hard to build a program that the community of Hutchinson and Reno County can be proud of.

    ReplyDelete
  9. With regard to the comparison between the Kc Chiefs and our beloved Blue Dragons, it is kind of apples and oranges. The majority of the fans in KC are season ticket holders with a several thousand dollar investment. They would be foolish not to go or attempt to sell their tickets to some one who might want to go.(sometimes at a much less than face value cost on ebay) But, with that being said, if you had the opportunity to attend any of the games last year, you would have noticed that most of those same ravenous fans had disappeared by the third quarter. Not just quieted, actually left the building. You might have also noticed that the local TV stations had to buy a large amount of the remaining seats to avoid a TV black out. One other byproduct of last years 4-12 debacle is the fact that the chiefs are attempting to sell half season ticket packages. They don't even have enough demand to sell all their season tickets. This just serves to illustrate my point that your record can serve to motivate or deflate your fan base. During the 90's when the Chiefs were winning games(not even championships) there was a several year waiting list.

    Anyway you look at it nothing breeds success like success. People like band wagons, they want to climb on with a winner. You have to make them believe you have a winning product. Traditionally that comes from having more numbers in the left hand column than the right.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mr Underhill...

    I agree with you 100%.

    Wins puts asses in seats.

    Just so you know the whole coaching staff at HCC is aware of it too.

    My one bitch about this town in this regard is the amount of people I hear talk about how bored they are through a weekend, but they don't check out juco sports. That's kinda a different post though.

    Here's my challenge. The first game of the season, let's blow their doors off. Lets pack Gowans and let them know that if they put on a show and win some games and make us proud we will back them like raging lunatics, we paint our damn faces blue and red. We wil yell and scream, we will be full blown fans!!! We will make that athletic program some money so they can pursue improvements. Hell I wanna road trip with em... Not to damn Liberal I don't but to Butler I will!!! Come let's do it!!

    The instant it looks like it's gonna be a losing season, your commitment to support them that your express in the comments here is over. I think that's kinda chickenshit that people act like that, but thats the facts and we all gotta live with them.

    Make a comment pledge right here in this crazy blog post to be a raging fan. Let The coaches and all those boys fighting for spots this fall that at that first game we are gonna scare the crap out them cause we will go so crazy when the score. It'll be fun we can go nuts and make a name for ourselves. Might be adult beverages if that's your thing before and after. Just saying.

    I give you my word that if you met these guys you would follow them into a damn burning building.

    I am not asking for that I am asking for you to spend a couple bucks and go sit in a beautiful stadium and watch some good football. Come on who's with me?!?!?!?!? Kate??? I know you are!!!

    Ready Break!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Cody, I am guessing that the childhood of which you speak happened sometime between 1981 and 1988. During that time the Blue dragon basketball team finished no worse than a champion or co champion of the league. This of course all culminated with their national championship in 1988. I also can't help but notice that the Blue Dragon football team of the same era was conspicuously left out of your post.
    Allow me to speculate why you did not know the home town of any of those particular players. 34-39. This was the record of the football team during that same time frame.

    Now to give credit where credit is due, two of our best seasons in recent memory came while our coach was securing his spot as third all time tackle leader in school history. He is a proven winner. He has a plan, he's getting his players, and he expects to improve. I expect them to be better this year. I also suspect that he probably expects nothing less than the best from himself and his athletes.

    Please don't confuse my opinions about the lack of tailgating and fan support with a desire for the team to fail. Nothing could be further from the truth. But the fact of the matter is I am a married adult, with kids, an 8-5 job, and many other responsibilities. I have many commitments to my family and my community, but I have a finite amount of time to allot to leisure activities. So I have a to make a choice on how to spend my time, and although 2-7 is in fact better than 0-9, the choice to do something else becomes easy.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Mr Underhill,

    Well put..

    The choice is yours .....

    We will have a great fricking time (my wife who is at the office with me right now where we work a 7:30 am to about 9:00pm job and kids include) without you.

    Thanks again for great comments.
    So no harm done on either side.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Cody,

    I hit your site cuz' Rion told me about you & mentioned that you are a great guy! So far, I concur! My name's Lee and Rion has been going to church with me (Crossroads Christian) for several months now. I've been the Sr. Minister there about as long as Rion's been coaching the Blue Dragons. During this time (brief as it may be) I've learned to really appreciate Rion, Darcy, and what their family brings to the table.

    Frankly, I don't know much about football. (I played two years in Jr. High and then washed out in that particular endeavor.) But in terms of excitement, style, leadership, vision, and inspiration...I'm looking forward to seeing the Rhoades at work!

    evenkeele@me.com
    evenkeele.com

    ReplyDelete
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