If you have attended any Gladiator football game this year, you probably noticed a group of young men that stand out among the crowd. They are young; however, that does not stop acts of pride and loyalty to their school from shining through. The young men are none other than “ITALY PRIDE”, freshman from Italy High School with an idea they would like to convey.
Webster says the definition of tradition is “an inherited, established or customary pattern of thought, action or behavior; the handing down of information, beliefs and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another.” Pride is an Italy tradition these young men have inherited, if you will, from their predecessors.
Each student has chosen a letter in “GO ITALY” and painted it on their chest and a corresponding number from the Varsity team on their back.
You can see the honors from generations before passed down. A good historian to talk about tradition and pride in Italy is 1968 graduate, Karen Mathiowetz. "Back in the mid 60’s, we had a drill team with majorettes that twirled. In 1964 they twirled with fire batons — all the lights would be turned off on the football field when this happened.
“We also had a football sweetheart instead of homecoming queen. One nominee was from each class. The class that raised the most money would be declared the winner and their nominee crowned at homecoming.
“In 1966-1968 we had cheerleaders in the stands. Cordell Clanton, Bud Griffin and Crockett Tyler from Milford all had kids that went to school in Italy. They would sit together in the home stands. They would stand and lead cheers right along with the cheerleaders. What a wonderful tradition that was for everyone — except their children.
“Also, in the late 60’s, the last home football game of the season was so special for the senior players and their dads. There would be chairs lining the sidelines next to the fence as a place of honor for the dads to sit. It was a tradition that happened every year.
“When Jana Cockerham was a cheerleader, there was a spirit stick that went to the student that showed the most spirit that week. The students really competed for that thing — it was one of the most prized possessions one could receive.
“One more story, when Tommy Davis was a senior, Cherilyn and I decorated the field house every week and decorated her parents yard on the corner of South Ward and Park. We also had a Gladiator graveyard all over downtown with the tombstones of our opponents and the info of their demise at the hand of the Gladiators!”
Karen can reminisce about the past but she and her fellow classmates have set some standards for today’s students. It is good to have honor, tradition and pride showing through the current players and students. Beside the fact, it can be just plain ol’ good fun! So the next Italy football game you attend, look into the stands and look for these fine young men. They will sit in order. GO ITALY PRIDE!