The “Ridley Rowdies” were created during the 2000-2001 school year. The rowdies began at the request of the Marion County High School Cheerleaders and upper classmen. The students deserved a pep club that was similar to what they saw on television. The cheerleaders wanted students to help cheer our sports teams to victories. Hearing this, I researched how to create a pep club. I sent invitations to juniors and seniors to attend a very selective and private meeting. The meeting was held in the football bleachers at 9:00 pm. Invitees were told to tell no one about this invitation and to appear in comfortable clothes and be prepared to be rowdy. I did not share my ideas with Principal Grimes. I wanted it to be a secret so it would be more fun for the students. Apparently some parents had contacted him because they had found the invitation in their child’s backpack and were concerned about the letter. He came to me to see if I knew about the meeting. I was forced to confide in him what I was trying to create. The meeting was a HUGE success. They wanted a unique name. After discussing several names we selected “The Ridley Rowdies” as the property the school was built on was once owned by the Ridley Family. In the beginning students would paint their bodies for the game. They would stand beside the band, in front of the cheerleaders and be rowdy the entire game. I quit sponsoring the rowdies for a few years because students’ interest declined. During that time, we had a group of students that formed the “duck choir”. The “duck choir” lasted for only a couple of years because the TSSAA “outlawed” noise makers in gymnasiums! After that, I was asked to bring back the rowdies. This is when we started tailgating and I introduced the rowdies to the now famous “Purple Power Punch”. Through the years, I stored the group’s paints, noise makers and other spirit items, signs and food in my classroom so they would be ready for game days. For away games, students would load the paint, corn hole boards, snacks and the purple power punch to take to games. For home games, the students simply moved it outside. Students would meet a few days before the game to decide if they were grilling out, ordering pizzas, bringing snacks, or if each person was bringing their own food for the tailgate. About seven or eight years ago the rowdies started having dress up themes for each game. There have been numerous rowdy highlights, but here are a few:
1. If the rowdies were grilling out hamburgers and/or hotdogs Larry Ziegler, Sr. provided the buns for the tailgate. He would always make a bread delivery by school on game day.
2. It was an extremely cold game night. One male student was wearing purple cheer shorts and painted the rest of his body in purple paint. I overheard some ladies discussing how cold he had to be…..I told them not to worry because it was insulated paint. They believed me and were telling others how smart our students were because they were using insulated paint to keep warm!
3. At an away Bledsoe County football game, Willie Saylors went by the rowdies’ tailgate party and gave them party horns….the rowdies wore those horns out that night….our fans loved it.
4. At a basketball game at South Pittsburg High School, the rowdies were told they had to sit the entire game (no standing) and there could be no signs...but SPHS’s student section could stand and they had signs…..it was a very ROWDY night!
5. It was game day for the MCHS vs SPHS football game. The game was at South Pittsburg. At 3:00 pm, Marion County High School students took all the pick up trucks they had to a large parking lot on the main road in South Pittsburg. They put their trucks in a circle with their tailgates facing the center of the circle. Their tailgates were loaded down with hotdogs, bags of chips, Little Debbie cakes and the purple power punch. One truck’s tailgate had all the purple/white paint and several of our rowdies would be available to paint up everyone for the game. The rowdies were chanting “it’s great to be from the big MC” all afternoon. You could hear them for blocks. Lots of Warrior fans were stopping by to tailgate.
6. Many years ago, Walmart had a back to school battle between the schools pep rally. All three high schools in Marion County were to present a pep rally in front of the store. When it was MCHS’ cheerleaders turn to perform, the rowdies went wild. MCHS was twice as loud as everyone else there. Warrior Pride was exploding! I love seeing “The Rowdies” come in under the “Friday Night Lights” and showing their school pride. It purples my heart!