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Monday, October 30, 2017
Ramblings From Bridger
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When the weather is not cooperating or when I simply can’t psyche myself up for a long drive, Bridger is my go-to destination. Oh sure, there are other venues closer such as Meeteetse and Burlington, but for whatever reason I lean toward Bridger. Perhaps it’s the easy terrain of getting there and the lower elevation of 3,600 feet (compared to Meeteetse’s 5,751 feet)—meaning less likely to snow. And, unlike Burlington, they never play Friday afternoon games which is difficult to attend if I have a Friday afternoon class. At 57 years of age, I’m not much for driving at night either, so if I have to, I think returning from a Bridger Friday night game is easier on my aging eyes.
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It was Bridger’s “Senior Night.” I was surprised to hear over the public address system that four of their senior football players were planning to attend Northwest College—my employer. I even called my division chair during the pregame ceremonies to share this unexpected news. I found out later that senior members of their esteemed volleyball team had a couple players heading for Powell as well.
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I set up camp behind the east end zone, but I wasn’t alone. Two men where studying the field and the players with a little more attention than the casual spectator. As my camera was working on a time-lapse series, I walked over to them and said, “You guys are either reporters or scouts for another team.” When they looked up, they recognized me before I recognized them. It was the Geraldine-Highwood coaching tandem of Rod Tweet and Brandon Gondeiro. No doubt, they were in town to gather some information knowing there was a good chance they’d see one of these two teams in the second round of the playoffs. Later on it dawned on me that the two coaches were scouting the Scouts (of Bridger).
As it turned out, the game wasn’t as competitive as I thought it might be. Bridger shined brightly and made a statement by easily securing the conference’s number one seed to the tune of 49-14 over the Rangers.
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The Scouts weren’t only brighter because of their talent and athleticism, but the new field lights made everything three aperture stops brighter than the old bulbs when I last photographed a game there. I asked a Bridger fan if they were indeed new and was told the lights were installed during the 2016 season. Yet, one more reason to keep Bridger as my default destination.
Jim Goltz is the principal at Bridger, but in another life, I first knew him as the assistant coach at Custer back in 2003. I managed to catch him running errands in his school golf cart before the big game. During the half, he invited me up to his office to see a print he had made from one of my drone shots last year over the school. And if that wasn’t flattering enough, he has since started flying a drone himself.
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Maybe I’ll buy a little place in Bridger when I retire.
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Staff Sergeant David Thatcher was the last survivor of the “Ruptured Duck” crew during World War II’s Doolittle Raid and was born in Bridger.