For the first time in history, McFarland High School will be hosting its homecoming game at Bakersfield College’s Memorial Stadium, against the Delano Tigers. The communities of McFarland and Delano have been under pressure lately, as incidents of violence have spiked in recent months.
This violence has brought tough times to our communities, with sporting events, homecoming practices, and even the homecoming parade being canceled or rescheduled. Additionally, MHS students with off-campus privileges were denied access to leave for lunch. In the face of this all, the community once again prevailed.
Samuel Resendez, Superintendent of the McFarland Unified School District, was able to work with community partners and organize our homecoming and senior night at Bakersfield College.
“We are excited that MUSD found a way to make this event possible for our students. Due to the very real safety concerns, I was expecting bad news of cancellation but instead Mr. Díaz, Mrs. Gonzales, and Mr. Resendez worked hard behind the scenes to make this event happen for us,” said Ezenia Garza, ASB Director. “We are so thankful to BC for this opportunity. Since we are at McFarland high school early college, we always say we’re Cougar Renegades and this Friday it really is going to feel that way. We’ll be having rooter bus sign-ups all week and hope to get a great crowd out to Memorial Stadium.”
Bands play an important role in a college environment and giving a high school band the opportunity to show their hard work and dedication at a College stadium is more than they can hope for.
Band representative and senior Julian Hernandez expressed his excitement and confidence when he said, “I think this is a great opportunity not only for the seniors to get a look at what the college football atmosphere is like but the underclassmen as well. I am honestly excited to be able to play at BC. Mr. Herrera has been preparing since the beginning of the school year. We’re taught to have fun but be disciplined at the same time. We have learned a good amount of music in a short amount of time. I feel that the change in location made some of us nervous, but intrigued at the same time.”
Along with the band, McFarland’s cheerleading squad also has the opportunity to not only cheer but root for our cougars.
McFarland is not only a high school but an early college; McFarland offers dual enrollment classes through Bakersfield College, even offering the classes needed to graduate with an Associate’s Degree during senior year. Because of this, McFarland Cougars are now referred to as “Cougar Renegades,” as nearly every student has been involved in a college class throughout their high school career.
Not only have students taking the Dual Enrollment classes earned this name, but now athletes get to officially be rewarded with the title when the stadium lights shine on Friday.
Not only were our students excited, but staff and teachers were also happy to see the change.
“When I heard about the change for the homecoming game, I loved it! Not only is it a great alternative to the current circumstances, but a great way for students and student-athletes to see themselves as Cougar Renegades beyond academics,” Sheila Delgado, an employee at MHS, stated.
Gatz Nieblas, another staff member, continued by stating: “I absolutely love the district’s decision to move the game to Bakersfield College, because it takes a dark and highly unfortunate situation and makes something greater than anyone imagined, out of it. Our players are passionate about their team and sport, so their minds will be blown when they step out onto a high-quality college football field, surrounded by all the pomp and pageantry that’ll accompany the game.”
Along with our teachers, athletes, and students united during tough times, the community has been the biggest part of this all — as this is more than football now. Phil Corr, the senior pastor at the Church of the Living Savior located in McFarland, expressed his feelings regarding the news as both a pastor and community member.
“There is a verse in the Bible that says God works everything together for good. The community has united behind its leaders and with each other. I’ve been here seven and a half years and there has not been a situation like this during Homecoming,” Corr stated. “I think it shows the resilience of the community and I look forward to seeing the community moving forward in unity and being kind to each other.”
The community had a great outlook on the situation, as well as the first ever Mr and Miss Cougar, Cindy and Earl Bowman, who are retired teachers from the McFarland Unified School District.
“You remember your homecoming games. Especially your senior year it would be a real shame if the seniors were not able to have this memory. I think it’s something in the event that brings people together rather than pulls people apart,” said Cindy Bowman.
Earl Bowman added: “I think it’s good for the athletes. They practiced and worked really hard through the summer and in the fall to come to this point. Every athlete always looks forward to the homecoming festivities and kind of works toward that goal throughout the entire season, so I’m glad they’re going to have the opportunity to play that game.”
The junior-varsity game at Bakersfield College will start at 5 p.m. and the varsity game will start at 7:30 p.m., as well as a senior night showcase.