Brickie Fest went back to its roots for its fifth annual reunion of Hobart High School alumni. Graduating classes from as far back as 1964 gathered in the football field of their childhoods, the nationally famous Brickie Bowl.
The Hobart High School Alumni Association began hosting picnics in 2011 when they realized that traditional reunions were not reuniting alumni with everyone they missed from school. It left out the friends in other age groups, even students one year separated from class.
The Brickie Bowl was the perfect place for them to reconnect.
The Association’s Recording Secretary, Tracy McCullough, graduated in 1978. “Hobart,” she said, “Was a small enough town that Friday night football became an event. It became a meeting place. Because the field was used so long, everyone from 1930-2000 came here. It is a unifying point for the community.”
“It’s mystical,” said retired teacher Andi Beluschak Fressle. She graduated in 1966 and returned to Hobart High School to mentor other students. “It’s a spiritual place. It personifies Hobart football.”
Former running back Mike Deal agreed. “It’s where it all started. This is football.”,
“It symbolizes some of the best years of your life,” said his teammate, Mike Little. He played lineman from 1964-1966. “When you were in school and playing football and life was a lot simpler.”
Danielle Tintinger was once a foreign exchange student at Hobart High School. She flew back from France to be with the friends she made in the place they still love.
“Getting graduated 50 years ago, [the anniversary], is something to celebrate. It changed my life. It was a wonderful year and I enjoyed every moment of it,” Tintinger said.
The original concrete bleachers of the Brickie Bowl were built by the Works Project Administration that gave people jobs during the depression after World War II. The field itself was crafted mostly by the labor of the students who would play on it. Its grasses diverted a running creek and beautified a trashed landscape.
“It’s nostalgic,” said Paul Addison, the Vice President of the Alumni Association. “When people first get out of high school, people are all so busy with their lives. They don’t think much about their friends. As they get older, they get more nostalgic.”
Everyone at Brickie Fest had a memory of the now retired Brickie Bowl. The most important thing it did was give them a place to come back to and share those memories.