COLUMBIA — Seeing Baleigh Nichols shivering and huddled in an enclosure outside of Memorial Stadium, her once bright purple dance jacket turned several shades darker and her pom poms dripping with water, one might assume she didn't have a good time at the 2009 Providence Bowl. Nichols, a member of Hickman's dance team, has never had to perform in this much rain before, but, like most who stuck it out for four quarters, she found a way to make the most of it.
She said there was little she could do to stay dry, but soggy clothes didn't hamper her experience.
"I had fun," Nichols, 15, said. "We got our coats on, but those got drenched eventually."
For Rock Bridge seniors Katie Seyer and Kelsey Reimler, this year's experience was a welcome change of pace from what Rock Bridge football fans have become accustomed to.
"There was a lot of dancing and celebrating," Reimler said. "It was much better than last year."
They had good reason to be happy. After losing to Hickman for the past two seasons, Rock Bridge shut out the Kewpies 26-0, never allowing its opponent a glimmer of hope in the fumble-filled game.
"We can actually leave with a smile," Seyer said. "It's a lot different than we're used to."
With standing water on the field, both teams struggled to maintain possession of the ball, but the Rock Bridge players showed a superior ability to cope with the conditons.
Despite the lopsided defeat, Hickman fans still found a way to have a good time. Bobby Rankin, 46, has two children that have graduated from Hickman, but that didn't stop him from coming out to the game and enduring the steady rain.
"It was miserable," he said. "You had to be a fan to sit out in it. I still had fun though, just too many turnovers."
For some parents, dealing with the wet weather provided a unique experience. Mary Palffy has spent the season watching her son's first exposure to varsity football.
"I've been to games in snow, but never anything like this," Palffy said. "I think there would have been a lot of people here tonight, but the weather kept them away."
Dave Patterson, 55, had a smile on his face as the Bruin fans counted down the game's final seconds.
"I've never been to a game like this. I'm glad we won, but I wish the conditions had been better so the community could have enjoyed the event a little bit more."
Judging by the emotions of fans for both sides, those who stayed inside missed a lot of fun.