Redhawks faithful make trip to Washington

Friday, December 3, 2010
The Southeast Missouri State Redhawks warmup on Eastern Washington University's Roos Field Friday evening, December 3, 2010, in Cheney, Wash. (Kit Doyle)

SPOKANE, Wash. -- The logistics of Southeast Missouri State's first playoff football game in program history prevented many staunch Redhawks fans from making the trip.

Not Bill Gosche and Kim Hope, two ardent Southeast supporters who said they weren't about to miss out on such an historic occasion.

Gosche and Hope, both heavily involved with the Southeast Booster Club, joined the university's official travel party of about 120 people, including the team, in flying via charter airplane from St. Louis to Spokane, Wash., late Thursday.

"I absolutely would not have missed this. I really wanted to be here," said Gosche on Friday as he eagerly anticipated Saturday's contest against Eastern Washington, the nation's top-ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA).

Gosche is a longtime Southeast booster who currently serves as vice-president of the Southeast's Executive Booster Board.

Despite being an enthusiastic supporter of Southeast athletics for more than 20 years, Gosche said he never before had attended any of the university's playoff contests, not even when the men's and women's basketball teams made NCAA tournaments over the past decade.

"This is my first NCAA experience in a playoff situation. It's just fantastic," Gosche said. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for the players, not only to be in the playoffs but to be facing the No. 1 team in the nation.

"I'd like to get used to this. And who knows, maybe we'll be able to."

Hope, like Gosche, also is enjoying her first Southeast playoff experience even though she has been a season-ticket holder "off and on" since 1987.

"I never got to go when the basketball teams went," said Hope, a member of the Southeast Booster Board. "It's my first NCAA playoff deal and it's unbelievable. Oh my gosh, this is dynamite."

While Gosche, also a longtime Southeast season-ticket holder, missed one Southeast football game this year -- at Eastern Illinois due to a family member's wedding -- Hope has attended every Redhawks contest.

"This is just great for the kids," Hope said. "We're so proud of all the players and coaches. We're going to be cheering them on as hard as we can."

Gosche said he expected a solid if not overwhelming amount of Southeast fans to be in the stands for Saturday's 3:05 p.m. CST kickoff in Cheney, Wash., about a half-hour drive from Spokane, where Southeast's official travel party is staying.

The Redhawks have quite a few players from the West Coast, so their families likely would find travel much easier.

"I know several parents of players made the trip," Gosche said. "I've already met some of them."

Added Gosche with a laugh: "We might not have a huge amount of fans there, but I guarantee you we'll be loud. People will know we're there."

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