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Commentary: Prince, Thunder, Twitter, The Revolution and Friday Night Lights

ClarkCountyToday.com reporter thankful for students’ gift of music

VANCOUVER — It was a simple tweet, for fun, yes, but also sent with a lot of heart. The intended audience had no idea.  

Paul Valencia, ClarkCountyToday.com sports reporter
Paul Valencia, ClarkCountyToday.com sports reporter

Yet the reply was glorious.

Because the reply was real.

I sent out more than 100 tweets Friday night from my perch in the press box above McKenzie Stadium, a norm for this high school football reporter. One tweet in particular, though, was directed not to followers looking for updates from the game, but to a student section with harmony.

Those students, standing below me in the bleachers, were blasting music at halftime, singing along with the famous voices, dancing. You see, there was no band at this high school football game, an unintended consequence of teachers on strike.

Because of the teacher’s strike in the Evergreen School District, there were no pep bands at Friday’s game between Mountain View and Union. The Mountain View students didn’t mind, they brought their own music to enhance the night’s experience. Photo courtesy of @ViewCrew360
Because of the teacher’s strike in the Evergreen School District, there were no pep bands at Friday’s game between Mountain View and Union. The Mountain View students didn’t mind, they brought their own music to enhance the night’s experience. Photo courtesy of @ViewCrew360

The students improvised, bringing in their own sound system to rock this house.

I caught myself nodding my head like ‘Yeah’ when they were singing with Miley Cyrus. Later, I considered taking a midnight train to anywhere with them and Journey.

I had a request, though.

“If they want to really make me happy, Let’s Go Crazy by Prince!” I tweeted.

A few minutes later … “Dearly Beloved …”

No, I thought. Had to be a coincidence.

I stood up, leaned over the press table, got my face close to the window so I could look down on that incredible Mountain View High School student section. Some of them were looking up at me. The smiles made the Friday Night Lights even brighter. I celebrated like I had scored a touchdown, raising my arms, hoping they saw me through the glare of the window.

Those few seconds were magic. Soon enough, the moment ended. The students went back to cheering. I went back to working the game.

Still, this meant a little more to me.

This was the 154th consecutive Friday I have covered regular-season football in Clark County. I started reporting in the region in the fall of 2001 and have never taken off a Friday. That’s nine Fridays in a row for 17 seasons in a row, and now add one more week to that total. And, God willing, I will get eight more this year.

That streak has never really been in jeopardy. Honestly, why would I want to take a Friday off during high school football season? I have the greatest job in the world, and football is king.

Still, I must admit, I did entertain the thought, for maybe a minute or two, about ending that streak.

A few months ago, I learned my favorite band, The Revolution, would be playing across the river in Portland — on Aug. 31.

Yes, as in Prince and The Revolution.

The band means more to me now than ever, and the band meant the world to me back in the day.

I am grateful that I was able to see The Revolution in Portland last year. Emotions overtook us when Wendy asked us, the audience, to sing Prince’s songs with them. The Revolution got back together soon after Prince’s death just for people like me, who wanted to experience the music one more time, together.

We partied like it was 1999 but we also cried because, yes, sometimes it snows in April.

A year or so later, The Revolution announced a return to Portland.

My heart screamed Yes.

Then my heart sank when I saw the date, the same night as Week 1 of the high school football season.

Could I?

Could I possibly miss Week 1?

After all, there are really good teams in Clark County this year. Surely, with playoffs, the football season could last 13 or 14 weeks.

I could miss one week, right?

For the Revolution?

Turns out, not even for The Revolution.

Within minutes, I had returned to my senses. Now, I must say I did not come to this decision because of The Streak. No, the streak is simply a product of many things: It is my job. High school football nights are some of the biggest nights of the year for my job. I love my job. I love this community. And I have so much respect for the players, the coaches, and the fans. That streak is insignificant compared to those other factors.

When this streak does end, I cannot imagine it will be by my choice.

So there I was Friday night, right where I belonged.

Still, I could close my eyes and feel the love at the Crystal Ballroom, wondering what song they were playing at that exact moment.

At about that time, I heard the singing at McKenzie Stadium. Figured I might as well send out a request.

Because I saw some of those fans looking up at the press box, I knew they played that song because of my tweet. Yet, an hour or so later, I was still in a state of disbelief.

On my way back to the press box after conducting my post-game interviews, four Mountain View students were near the sound system. I had to inquire. Indeed, they said, that song was for me.

I’m getting emotional again, thinking about it.

It is not about a particular song. I requested this one because we were at a football game, and Let’s Go Crazy is a perfect fit for fans.

For me, the emotion comes from this simple act of kindness. It comes from knowing how music brings us together.

I sent out a tweet, and I got a reply. A genuine reply. Not on the computer screen. But in real life, the human experience.

Yes, I was exactly where I was supposed to be Friday night, doing my job, loving my job. Still, it would have been epic to be at that concert.

Through the power of music and a simple gesture, I was at that concert — in my mind’s eye — for just a few seconds, with a bunch of new friends from Mountain View.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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