I almost felt sorry this morning for the lucky Phi Kappa Psi member bundled up in a winter coat and hunched over the Monon Bell, ringing it constantly from the front porch.
Here at Wabash tradition defeats almost everything, including early winter’s chill.
Sometimes in sports the significance of the game is lost on fans, while the significance of the result escapes the players.
Not here. It was reassuring to hear a pair of Little Giant seniors speak knowingly about the big-picture impact of Saturday’s 38-21 win.
It wasn’t about the senior class finishing 4-0 or extending the win streak over DePauw to five. It was about everyone else who holds this place dear.
“It’s so much bigger than Wabash,” said offensive lineman Spencer Burk. “Just the fact that there is this old 300-pound bell that symbolizes so much for so many different people. We’ve got traditions all over the place, but nothing like the Bell. It brings us together.”
Burk then relayed a story about the aftermath of the 2010’s 47-0 win, where over the Christmas Break, he was back home in Greenfield, Ind., walking through the mall wearing a Wabash t-shirt. An alum approached him, asked if he played football and shook his hand in congratulations.
“He was talking to me like I was the starting quarterback,” Burk said. “He didn’t care what position I played or what year I was, the only thing that mattered was that I was affiliated with Wabash and he had nothing but pride for us and keeping the Bell. To me, that was the image that it was bigger than me or the uniform. It was so much bigger than I could have expected.”
Similar feelings were expressed by wide receiver Jon Laird, whose 64-yard catch and run for a score broke things open in the first quarter. He had received messages of support all week leading up to his stellar performance.
“This game means so much to the alumni and the fans,” Laird said. “I’ve received calls and texts the whole week from alumni this week saying ‘go get ‘em.’” The environment here was great. There is no better way to end the regular season than to retain the Bell.
“It was so special,” he concluded.
That certainly rings true. Especially to the Phi Psis this morning.