The Great Falls High and CM Russell teams play the bulk of their home games at Siebel Soccer Park in Great Falls, Montana. Because of its position, the park has spawned a tradition. A video of the unusual activity that has now become customary at the park went viral when it was posted online.
The Bison girls were playing Butte in a Class AA playoff game at 4:30 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon when they heard a familiar sound in the distance. Both teams instantly froze in the middle of the 1-0 game, and the head referee halted the play clock for a minute. One bystander recorded the occurrence, which was such a simple but impactful act.
The national anthem, which plays over the speaker system at Malmstrom Air Force Base (MAFB), right across the street from the park, was the sound that brought the game to a standstill. The song is played every day at 4:30 p.m. as the United States flag is lowered from its position overlooking the base and the city.
When the national anthem plays, the teams usually halt training to honor the flag. But, as the anthem played at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, as it does every day, the girls on the field were in the midst of a 1-0 game. The clock was stopped, much to the amazement of observers, and the girls understood what to do. Both teams faced the flag, with several players placing their hands over their hearts. The crowd then did the same.
Nevertheless, the teams did not always stop what they were doing for the anthem. It’s a tradition that CMR girls coach Willie Pyette initiated when he took over the Rustler program and moved practice to Siebel Soccer Park. After taking over as coach of the CM Russell High School girls soccer team and shifting the team’s activities to the park, he saw the daily custom at MAFB and chose to include it into his team’s practice.
With the new place and the playing of the hymn, the Bison and Rustlers halt what they’re doing, which is generally simply practice, turn east with their hands over their hearts, stand at attention, and salute the flag. Activities continue only when the anthem is finished.
Pyette says the custom isn’t intended to be political, instead it is a show of gratitude for the servicemembers in Malmstrom and elsewhere. He went on to say that the one-of-a-kind tradition would continue as long as soccer games are played in the afternoon at Siebel Soccer Park.
The National Anthem represents the rights that many people in this nation take for granted, yet it has received a lot of disrespect and has sparked controversy throughout the years. Rather than honoring such rights and goals, many people have opposed the anthem during times when they believe the country has fallen short of them. However, as the startled viewers at this soccer game witnessed, this is not the case everywhere. Even in the midst of a game, these girls recognized what is genuinely important: respecting the anthem and flag respects those who fought for our liberty.
Kids, especially teenagers, do the most bizarre things at times, including many situations when they decide to do the right thing. Those aren’t usually the youngsters who make headlines. While poor behavior will always attract attention, there are numerous other teenagers who understand what is right.
All too often, these young people go unnoticed and do not receive the recognition they deserve. But every now and again, when they accomplish something exceptionally spectacular, the spotlight shines brilliantly on them. In a world full with stories about youngsters doing the wrong thing, it’s refreshing to read about teens who do the right thing, such as these two. They could surely educate a few grownups to appreciate the flag and those who protect us. Congratulations, girls!