In 1974, one family, including sisters Peggy Lucas, Carol Speakman, Janie King and Jo Ellen Gossett, started painting large signs to hang on a white barn on the corner of Lyndon Road and S.R. 28 near Lyndon just east of Greenfield. It was something to cheer on the basketball team as the McClain Tigers headed off to tournament games, and something to feed the excitement of the community supporting them.
That first year, Gossett remembered with a laugh, her mother put purple and gold shakers on the sign, which read “This is the Road to Victory,” so that passersby wouldn’t mistakenly show up for a revival.
Through the years, each succeeding generation of the family has joined in on the sign-making, which ran regularly until 2013, Gossett said, the year the last grandchild graduated.
“We have had a lot of fun over the years coming up with ideas and refining them,” Gossett said. “We used to have Sunday night pizza parties to brainstorm and then we would paint later in the week.”
And while she said they may have made signs intermittently since 2013, it wasn’t until this year that they got back into it at the “coaxing” of teacher and McClain cheerleading advisor Vanessa Penwell.
This year’s first banner on the white barn was done by Penwell and the varsity cheerleaders. She said she wanted to bring back “old traditions” by hanging a large sign on the barn, which, thankfully, was still standing.
Penwell said they incorporated elements of one of those first signs and posted about the endeavor on Facebook with a little bit of the sign-making history. That conjured the memories for the family that started it all, Penwell said, and she suggested they get back into the sign-making before the barn is gone.
And so the family has picked up an old tradition to support the Tigers and have made signs for the old barn. They have already started this week’s sign, Gossett said, with a sign that will be ready to cheer on the Tiger basketball team and the fans heading to the regional tournament semi-final game Thursday at the Ohio University Convocation Center in Athens.
McClain (18-7) plays Waverly (21-4) at 8 p.m.
There’s a lot of school spirit activities going on this week in the school district, including a district-wide pep rally taking place on Wednesday. Also, Penwell said the cheerleaders have made signs for businesses to post throughout town, so the Tiger spirit is everywhere.
The community can join in that spirit a couple different ways this week. The cheerleaders have hosted car painting events prior to the other tournament games, and there’s another one coming up on March 9 from 5-7 p.m. at the Jefferson Street Business Center (old Pamida building). For a donation, the cheerleaders will be painting car windows to showcase Tiger spirit. Then on March 10, there will be a community send-off for the Tigers beginning at 4:15 p.m. People can bring signs, dress in purple and gold, and line Jefferson Street from Fifth Street to S.R. 28 to cheer the boys on as the team bus departs at 4:30 p.m. for Athens.
“Tiger pride is always strong, but it is extra special when we see a high level of community support and engagement,” Greenfield Superintendent Quincey Gray said. “We are building memories that will last a lifetime, and we look forward to our district pep rally on Wednesday in which all students and staff members will be able to participate. Go Tigers!”
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the village of Greenfield.