Commentary: ‘Guin’ Notes

By Edward P. Noga

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – When schedules permit, Fred and I make our way to our seats at Stambaugh Stadium to see the Youngstown State Penguins come together to face opponents on the football field.

We have had season tickets for several years and enjoy the excitement, the concessions and our neighbors who sit in our section.

Flashback: I was in attendance back in 1985 when Stambaugh Stadium opened and YSU played the University of Akron.

The pageantry of opening the new sports venue on Fifth Avenue made for a festive and happy occasion. Wish I could say that we won that opening game but the Zips had a different idea as they kicked the football through the uprights for a last-minute field goal to beat us 20-19.

Although the immediate focus of attending any collegiate sports event is the game itself, we also enjoy the time-outs and the halftime programs that often include acknowledgments of other YSU sports team accomplishments and sometimes the mention of sports sponsors, benefactors and former greats. 

At the final home game this year, which happened on Veterans Day, a special salute to all veterans appeared above us as a C-130 from the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna flew over the stadium at halftime.    

Football halftimes, on all levels, typically feature the musical precision of the marching band. Its dedicated members showcase musical and dancing talent, show off its members’ flashy uniforms and many hours of practice to entertain and pump up the spirit of the local team and fans.

At this game, as time in the first half ticked down, the band and other ensemble members began to line up in single file along the edge of the field for their performance. Their single-file finale covered half of the sideline.

When the whistle began their program, they started marching in step while playing the YSU theme. As they made their way, it was obvious that they were making a statement as they approached midfield on the home side stands.

When their single-file line hit the 50-yard marker, they entered the field and began a formation. At first, we all wondered what the formation would be. As more members marched onto the field, our faces lit up in smiles, especially when someone in our section yelled, “Hey, they are spelling Guins!” That’s correct, each member was part of G-U-I-N-S.

As an added touch, before the YSU fight song, the senior class members of the band and their families came forward and proudly stood before the crowd as their names (and major) were announced.

How great it was to see and hear who they were, where they were from and learn their post-graduate plans. Seniors from throughout the Valley and beyond with their instruments, flags and batons in hand, made the regular season finale extra special.

The sight at the very beginning of their program was quite something. Usually, a band comes onto the field as a block of converging rows. We were all caught off guard when first seeing them in a lengthy single file. Once the program began, their music, steps and precision all came together and the momentum built as they funneled into GUINS.

Later that day, which included a disappointing loss – our opponents were ranked No. 1 in our division – I started thinking again about the halftime formation. It came to mind that the single-file opening may have been a way to acknowledge all the hard work, energy and practice of each member of the Marching Pride.

The eventual single-file formation that became GUINS signaled (for me at least) the coming together of many individuals, on and off the field, who provided a solid group experience and performance.

Together, they showed what can happen when we plan, practice and work together. Yes, there are missteps at times (like losing a game). But working together constantly puts those steps in the past and in perspective.

The GUINS halftime show was and is a reminder that we can bring the uniqueness of who we are to the table or to the field and work together to perform some wonderful accomplishments, both in our personal lives and to build up our communities.

Go ‘Guins!