The Wheels on the Bus Go to Mount Paran

For the second time this month, the Athletic Department has chartered a fan bus to support the varsity football team.

When the varsity football team leaves on Friday for its first round GHSA Class A private school playoff game at Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, they will be followed at 3:00 p.m. by a TranSouth bus with 21 fans — along with the varsity cheerleaders.

“Historically speaking, I think playoff student buses are kind of a big deal — it’s just fun. It’s a way to get students to the game and it gives them a chance to get together and go, it’s just kind of a tradition,” Athletic Director and Football Coach Mark Farriba said.

Although many students were hesitant to sign up because of the $20 price of the bus trip, the bus filled up by Tuesday.

“It was Coach Farriba’s idea to take the buses and we are taking them because these past two games have been the farthest away games.  Also, we wanted to provide safe transportation for people who can’t or don’t want to drive, and to build up a lot of spirit for the game,” said Sports Information Director Ms. Terry Sowell.

The Athletic Department previously organized a bus for the cross-over game against Lincoln County on Friday, Nov. 7.  That bus, too, filled up with Eagles ready to travel nearly to South Carolina to cheer on the football team.

The $20 fee will go directly toward paying for the cost of the bus, which costs $940.  The bus, which seats 47, will carry the cheerleaders, Varsity Cheerleading Coach Kelly Solomon, and two parent chaperones.

The fee does not include a ticket to the game, which costs $7.

Some students grumbled about the price of the bus ride, especially when the ticket price and the cost of dinner (the bus will stop at Chik-fil-A) is factored in.

“$20 dollars for a bus ride, a $7 entry fee, and dinner on the way back is a lot of money for one football game, especially when it’s going to be freezing outside,” senior Bonnie Jarrard said.

“I’d rather carpool with friends and all chip in money for gas than pay the price of the bus. It’s just a lot of money for one night,” senior Amelia Brown added.

But Sowell and Farriba defended the $20 fee as a necessary move to cover costs.

“The price of the trip is really beyond our control. When we’ve been able to, we’ve gotten the price of tickets lowered, but it’s really up to the host schools. Last year the senior parents offered to pay for the first 100 students’ tickets at the playoff games, and 100 students didn’t come,” Sowell said. “Stratford tries to provide for our students whenever we can, but this is one situation when we can’t.”

“There isn’t anything we can do. There is a price for the bus and a price to get in the game and we can’t change that,” Farriba added.

The fans riding the bus — two seniors, four juniors, six sophomores, eight freshmen, and one 8th grader — lean heavily towards younger students who cannot drive on their own.

“I don’t mind paying $20 to ride the bus because I love my Eagles and I want them to win. I didn’t get to ride it last week so I’m super pumped,” freshman Emily Sheridan said.

“I rode the bus last week and had fun with all my friends cheering at the game, so I’m going back this week to cheer them on in the cold,” freshman Carey Woodcock said. Several upperclassmen were planning to carpool to Mount Parran, which is about 100 miles away from Stratford, and save money by chipping in for gas.

School officials cautioned students to be careful, especially on the long drive back.

“It concerns me that some students are driving because of traffic and lateness of the return,” Sowell said.

“As long as driving is okay with their parents it’s fine with me. The good thing about the buses is that the students don’t have to worry about driving they just get a chance to get together and go to the game,” Farriba added.

According to Sowell, the school has chartered fan buses in the past for a state softball game in Dublin and to a basketball game at John Milledge Academy.

“We will try and take future fan buses for other sports depending on the distance of the trip and the day of the week of the game,” Sowell said.

Above, Stratford takes on Lincoln County on Nov. 7.  The Eagles lost the game, 20-21 (Photo courtesy of Ms. Terry Sowell).