It isn’t necessarily the win that seniors on the Garner-Hayfield-Ventura football team will remember from their final game. Their actions before the first whistle are still causing a stir in the school, community and beyond.
Mollie Hueneman, mother of senior player Jake Hueneman, is a self-proclaimed cheerleader for veterans. As she has watched the attention placed on players at every level who have taken a knee during the singing or playing of the National Anthem, she admittedly has been disgusted.
“I have a brother who has been in the military for 32 years and Jake’s older brother, Zachary, is on active duty now. That’s where my honor comes from,” she explained. “I watch all these things with the NFL and beyond and I don’t like it. It has been disappointing to see at least four teams we played this year stay in the locker room while the National Anthem is played. Maybe it’s not done in protest— but I think when the anthem is played, they should be there standing and paying their respect. You stand and you honor— always.”
As Senior Night was approaching, Mollie suggested to her son that perhaps seniors could display flags during the National Anthem played before the game. With the permission of Athletic Director Matt Graham and Coach Scott Van Dusseldorp, she spoke with the team. Without hesitation, they said yes.
“It may have been my vision to do this, but our boys took my vision and made it real, with respect and honor for those that serve,” said Mollie. “They wanted to show the world that this is how it should be done!”
The team took the idea and made it their own— using 20 flags borrowed from the City of Garner for the seniors to carry as they ran out of the tunnel onto the field.
“There were chills as the veterans who always do our flag raising ceremony were already on the field and saw them come out,” said Mollie.
GHV players then stood, displaying the flags on the sideline as the National Anthem blared.
A photograph taken of the players and posted on Facebook by Clear Lake Mirror-Reporter photographer Chris Barragy had reached more than 45,500 people by Tuesday morning and had received more than 3,260 comments and shares.
“It is a great bunch of boys and this was our first Senior Night instead of Parents Night, so it was perfect,” said Mollie.
“ I am so happy that (Mollie) came to me with this idea, as I feel it was a great way to honor our veterans and to honor our flag,”said Van Dusseldorp. “GHV is proud of our service members who have fought for the freedoms we enjoy. By doing this we felt it was a great way to honor and recognize those who have served as well as showing respect for our flag.”