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Football: Truckee going for 42 in town filled with support

Town supports team over 4-year win streak


1:00 AM, Oct. 05, 2012 EDT
TRUCKEE — 

Motivation comes in many forms.

Positive reinforcement works for some. The threat of running for hours does the trick for others. But those are coaches' techniques.

Siobhan Smart has her own methods when it comes to the Truckee football program.

As owner of the Wagon Train Café in historic downtown Truckee, Smart and her husband offer discounted breakfast for players wearing their jerseys on Friday mornings. But as the Wolverines won week after week for three-plus years -- the win streak sits at 41 -- Smart instituted a playful threat.

"I've told them, if they lose they're going to have to pay double, wear skirts and clear tables," Smart said. "I think we've played a role in the streak."

Smart's is a sentiment shared by many of Truckee's yearrounresidents of the two who have not donned a jersey or attended a practice the past 1,413 days -- the length of the Wolverines' win streak, which on Saturday could reach 42 games. With a win over visiting Fernley, the Wolverines will establish a NIAA state record for consecutive victories in 11-man football.

The Blue Coyote Bar and Grill opens its restaurant to the team and its kitchen to the parents for breakfast each Saturday morning before a home game. Numerous other business offer similar support. Dannette Arney shoots hundreds of photos at every game, and has done so the last five years after she was a cheerleader and stat keeper during her time in high school more than two decades ago.

"Truckee always kind of had to earn respect from Reno and from other town around the lake," Arney said. "It's strived to prove itself and we take a lot of pride in that, including in football."

'Part of our identity'

"There are a ton of people in this community who played Truckee football," said Josh Ivens, the team's defensive coordinator. "I think they all feel part of it, even if they don't have a kid on the team."

With his older sister a cheerleader, Ivens was indoctrinated into Truckee football in 1983 -- two years after the NIAA welcomed Truckee, Coleville, North Tahoe and South Tahoe into the association after the California Interscholastic Federation decided teh travel from the Sacramento area to the Lake Tahoe schools was too dangerous. Ivens later played for the Wolverines and came back to coach after college.

"As a town, they latch on to the football team as part of our identity," Ivens said. "... When you have a small town, you're talking about families and history, ownership of the team almost. Here's an example. There's a family whose kid graduated last year, but they were out at Spring Creek last week watching Truckee football."

"There is a feeling that we're all vested in Truckee football," said Smart, whose husband Brain played at Truckee in the early 80s and then coached Ivens in the early 90s.

A large section of one of the Wagon Train's walls is home to past photos and other Truckee football memorabilia. Similarly, the photos commemorating the Wolverines' recent state championships hang at the Blue Coyote.

"Without a doubt, the town sees the football program as a big deal," said first-year principal Greg Dettinger, who came to Truckee from Utah. "As soon as I got here, I heard the talk on the streets, and there is a lot of pride involved in it."

Town of cheerleaders

"What they're doing should be a sense of pride," Smart said, "because it is a sense of pride for the rest of the town. It reflects as a whole on the parents, coaches, community members, teachers. Everyone has to do something or put forth some effort so those kids can put forth the effort on the field. ... We all feel like cheerleaders for these kids."

Keith Thomas may be the program's biggest cheerleader. He is the program's official radio play-by-play voice, and unofficial voice in social media.

"I went to high school in Europe and all we had was basketball and soccer," Thomas said. "Then we moved here and my daughter became a cheerleader. I started driving to all the games and I just got hooked on it. The community, the families, it really brings the community together."

Outside pressure

Players say they can feel more pressure to continue the streak from those in town than from anyone inside the program. But they wouldn't have it any other way.

"The support we get is tremendous," said head coach Bob Shaffer, in his 18th season and Nevada's active leader in coaching victories with 167. "As we walk down the stairs to 'TNT' and on to the field before each home game, you see the same faces year after year, all the way back to when I first got here in the early 90s."

That support plays a noticeable role during home games, players and coaches say, and they will look for it again Saturday when Fernley comes to town for homecoming. The Vaqueros, like Truckee, are 5-0 in the Division I-A North league.

"The community definitely has our back, especially with the streak intact," said quarterback and safety Eric Holmer, who won a year of free meals at the Wagon Train after he caught a game-winning touchdown in the final minute of last year's state semifinal game against Fallon. "You know that no matter what you do on that field they're going to have your back. And it's not like if we don't win they're not going to be nice."

Well, except for that mop up duty at the Wagon Train.

 

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