Having graduated in the class of ’99, my ten year high school reunion is nearing. Not that I have ever been to a reunion, but I believe I can make some surprisingly accurate guesses as to how a reunion plays out. Reminiscing, gossip swapping, and even a little drunken debauchery grace the lips of those attending. Sure times have changed now that social networking is the foremost craze on the internet, but since graduation, I am sure I have been asked, several times a year, some question regarding going back to the old high school days. “Wouldn’t it be great to go back and relive those days in high school?” “Man, I would do anything to go back to high school again, wouldn’t you?”
To these questions I have always answered an emphatic “NO.” I have never wanted to “relive” those old days. The lessons learned as we age are the most valuable tools we have to grow, thrive, and succeed. The challenges we face each and every day can only be overcome using the lessons we have learned in our past. Athletics are some of my most cherished moments, both past and present, and the lessons that I have learned from them are still some of the foremost. I still lift weights, ski, play softball and basketball, but not at the same competitive level that I used to.
To be given the opportunity to play competitively again, and in essence, replay some of those games using what I know now, would be the opportunity of a lifetime. The truth is, on Aril 26th, 2009 at 3 pm, Gatorade is offering this opportunity to the lucky individuals of Easton High School’s (PA) and Phillipsburg High School’s (NJ) 1993 football teams, through their Gatorade REPLAY Mission.
REPLAY is a new online program that Gatorade is launching which will stage rematches of classic games between some of the nations biggest rivalries in sports. The idea behind REPLAY is to dramatize the mindset of an athlete and show that once you're an athlete, you're always an athlete. Gatorade is making a salute to the spirit of sport, of rivalry, of competition, and of rediscovery, and its an open invitation to athletes at all levels to see themselves in the Gatorade brand.
Gatorade searched the country for the greatest rivalries and came up with none other than the Easton-Phillipsburg annual Thanksgiving Day football game. In the 104th meeting of these two great schools, REPLAY will reunite players from the 1993 rivalry. Not only is this annual duel one of the oldest in the country, but it has been featured on the front page of USA Today which named it the top all-time high school rivalry in the country. To boot, it is the only high school rivalry to have been featured on ESPN twice. Each year, over 20,000 fans pack Lafayette College's Fisher Stadium in Easton, PA for the Easton-Phillipsburg clash and they expect at least that number of attendees for the April 26th match-up.
Of course, there is a lot going into this game, but there is added incentive far above the $1,000 that was given to each coach and player, or the $10,000 given to each school district. As the clocked ticked to zero in the fourth quarter of the ‘93 football game, a blocked field-goal attempt in the last play of the game prevented the light-bulbs on the scoreboard from changing to “10-7.” Yes, this game ended in a tie, and it has stood this way for the last 16 years. Now if you know anything about sports, you know that a tie isn’t as bad on the record as a loss, but it sure does leave you wondering, “how would it have ended if we played 5 more minutes, just five more minutes?” In this respect, it can be considered the worst ending, simply because there is no closure. These players aren’t just coming back to play football again, they have a score to settle, as well as ending a nagging tie that has left a void in their trophy case for the last 16 years. This time, “just 5 more minutes” will become a reality and one team will leave with the cherished "The Fork of the Delaware" trophy.
To physically prepare for the big game, the returning players will reunite in a weekend training camp at each school. At this three-day session, the athletes will practice and meet with sports science experts from The Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Gatorade has placed the players on individual, home-based 8-week training regiments that will culminate with a pre-game practice on Friday and Saturday before the game is played on Sunday, April 26. To aid them with their training, the players also received a supply of Gatorade Thirst Quencher, or G2, a low-calorie sports drink that delivers advanced hydration and nutrition benefits.
To add a little more fuel to the fire, both Eli and Payton Manning, each of them recently christened Superbowl Champion Quarterbacks, will be the honorary coaches for the game. About the contest Peyton had to say this:
"To have a chance to go back and play for your high school coach in a game again, to me, that in itself, is unique… These guys are incredibly lucky. I’m envious of these guys. Believe me, there’s plenty of games I would love to go back and play over again, and there’s plenty of teammates that I would love to go back and play with again."
As it stands right now, Gatorade has a trailer and two episodes posted on their MissionG wesite:
The third episode will be posted on the Mission G website prior to the April 26th game.