Every Monday through Friday I drive down Third Street in Ishpeming to get to work.
This week, there has been an addition made to the usual scene on that road. On every electrical pole there is a sign with a name and number of an Ishpeming Hematite football player. Some are decorate with the names of the coaches.
Ishpeming fans have always been supportive of their Hematites but in the past week I've seen it more strongly than ever before.
On Nov. 24, I watched the Hematites win a state championship and found myself pleasantly surprised by how many people were at Ford Field cheering them on. But that was nothing compared to what I walked into the following Sunday night in the Ishpeming High School gymnasium.
Community members packed into the stands after the Christmas parade and tree lighting to welcome home the state champs. The energy in that room can only be describe as one thing - electric. There was a sense of pride and support that filled the room so much it smacked you in the face when you walked in.
During the rally, the only time the crowd wasn't on their feet was when they were asked to sit down by the speaker. They screamed, cheered and whistled for every player and coach as he was introduced, filling the gym with noise. I can't even imagine what the Hematites felt when they heard the noise.
All the support this community has given the team has been overwhelming to see. I can't drive through Ishpeming without seeing some sort of sign congratulating the Hematites on their amazing season. The whole city of Ishpeming seems to have a different feel to it recently. There's a little more pride and a little higher spirit in town. An this is an area that already had a lot to start with.
After a year of challenges and tragedies, the Hematites deserved and earned the perfect end to a great season. Not only did they get a state championship to bring home with them, they will also be heading to New York City on Monday after Eric Dompierre's story was announced as the Sports Illustrated's winner for their "Underdogs" series.
So, to the Hematites, I say congratulations on a great season and I hope you have a blast in the Big Apple. You guys earned it.
Editor's note: Recent Northern Michigan University graduate and Mining Journal Ishpeming Bureau reporter Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.