On being part of the Old Threshers team

This column is brought to you by the number six.

Six: that?s the number of people who will be in my little apartment this weekend. Aside from my husband and myself, who are quite comfortable in our downtown digs, our second-story home will be housing my parents, my sister and my brother, who will be joining in the Old Threshers festivities.

Threshers doesn?t have a lot to do with my job as sports editor, I?ll admit. Though, as I started thinking about it, being part of the Reunion seemed to have a lot in common with sports.

It?s not just the food stands, which are popular at athletic venues and festivals alike, selling sweet and salty but always greasy food. No, there?s more to it than that.

For one thing, there?s the game plan.

Last year was my first-ever Old Threshers Reunion, and I went in without a game plan. One afternoon, I just took the bus from downtown over to the grounds to see what was happening.

Big mistake.

I wandered around for about an hour, not knowing anything about the layout of the grounds. Completely overwhelmed, I didn?t stay long.

But this year, I have a plan. I have a route mapped out, and I?ve done my research ? made my game plan.

Another group of people that always has a game plan is the garage salers. They stop into the News office to get the listings of all the garage sale ads and make their plans for where they?re going to stop. They weigh their options and choose the best route. Some are more intense than others; I think I even saw one woman with a chart of Xs and Os, devising her plan of attack.

Of course, while you may plan like an athlete preparing for the big day, you don?t actually have to be an elite athlete to participate in Old Threshers ?not that it would hurt to have some agility, speed, or the shoulders of a lineman while navigating though all the people.

But that?s not the only similarity between Threshers and sports. Another thing that strikes me is the way the community responds to the event.

This Mt. Pleasant community has transformed ? not only because of all the visitors. Businesses have displayed antiques or put up signs to get into the spirit of the festival. The town looks a lot like the way it did when the boys? basketball team went to and won the state championship ? each place displaying, at that time, the Panthers logo or signs of congratulations. It?s a time of year that everyone gathers in support of something they share in common ? a successful team or a big town festival.

But the most convincing similarity for me is something that?s difficult to put into words. It?s a feeling in the air ? one of excitement.

It?s like walking into the open air of the White Sox stadium (or fill in your favorite team there), and knowing that everyone?s excited about the same thing ? well, everyone except those few, but inevitable, North Side fans who wear Cubs jerseys to the Sox game ? what are they thinking? But I digress.

Threshers is even more like a day when the team is in throwback uniforms ? a reminder of the history of the game, even while you?re watching it played in present day.

Consider the Sweet 16 girls to be wearing ?throwback uniforms.?

The feeling that you get ? the excitement and camaraderie ? that?s one of my favorite things about sports. And maybe, even though I grew up in a city and can?t really tell a thresher apart from any other kind of tractor thingy, maybe that?s why I love the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion.

Then again, maybe the whole idea is just a stretch.

But every good athlete knows the importance of stretching.