Opening Season, Page 2

Most people do not know in the fall of 1973 several Big Walnut residents assembled a couple of football teams to compete against one another. It was loosely organized but sparked a community wide interest leading to the formation of the BWYAA one year later. For the founders, the petroleum and energy crisis partially guided their decision on how the league would operate. To limit the need for vehicle travel, athletes were generally assigned to teams based on where they lived using Township or County Roads as boundaries. Wearing their practice gear, it was commonplace to see athletes riding their bicycles or walking to and from practice. The BWYAA started the program with four football and cheer teams in the Junior Division, four in the Senior Division and one Flag Cadet cheer squad. The Junior Division was home to the Galena Tigers, Harlem Hawks, Lake Estate Vikings and the Sunbury Cardinals. The Senior Division housed the Berkshire Bengals, Condit Colts, Lake Estate Packers and the Sunbury Browns. Over the years team names have changed and only three have been on the roster in each of the past forty years: the Bengals, Browns and Cardinals.

JR Smith Park, Circa 1970 (image compliments of Mindy Edwards-Runyan)

At inception, cheerleaders were an integral part of the program and sported homemade uniforms with team letters hand stitched to the front. On opening day, there was a cheer squad for each of our Junior and Senior Division football teams. High Steppers did not yet exist but Flag Cadets were included during the inaugural season. Local moms applied their talent and dedicated their time to create smart looking uniforms each cheerleader proudly wore throughout the season. Shortly after 1974, a Women's Auxiliary formed to further organize the cheer program and develop various fundraisers to support the league's procurement efforts. One of the first fundraising events was the sale of homemade pennants with team names stitched or inked on the front. Many of the young athletes from the 1970s still have these cherished team pennants.

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