Pearls for pigskins

by Chloe Spradley

When you walk along the sidewalk headed to the Riverdale home football games, be sure to notice the flags that are present on each side of the sidewalk. The flags are placed there to let everyone know that each team member is being honored and prayed over by a group of grandmothers calling themselves “Pearls for Pigskins.”

In the Fall of 2019, the group was started with the intention of trying to find a special way to honor their grandsons on the Riverdale football team. This 2023 football season marks the beginning of the Pearls’ fifth season, and they are still going strong, serving their grandsons and their coaches. The Pearls prepare a meal for the team after school on the days of home games so that the players don’t have to leave school but can stay together as a team. This helps the team prepare themselves physically and mentally for the game. Before the meal is served, a blessing is offered up, along with prayers for the safety of all players—our Rebels and the opposing team. At the end of the season, any funds left over after meal expenses are given to the team to help wherever it is needed. Last year, the group provided the team with a contribution to go toward expenses for renting the bus for the playoff games.

Wanda Hanna, the organizer for the group, said: “The coaches and players are always very appreciative of our efforts. But even better, it gives each of us grandmothers that can attend a little special time with our grandsons. While the group was formed to serve the team and our grandsons, the Pearls receive the biggest blessing!

“Each year, as new players join the team, we attempt to contact their grandmothers and invite them to join our group. This year, we have 16 members, eight of which are returning members from last year and eight new members. We look forward to continuing this tradition for years to come!”
The first meal this year was served before the Tallulah game on August 18, and the second meal was served before the UCA game on August 25. Meals will be served for the remaining scheduled home games on September 22, 29, and October 13. Of course, the “Pearls” expect to have some playoff games that will allow them to serve the team when playoffs begin.

Returning members and the team members that they are representing are:
Mary Almond – Ashton Almond; Mary Tom Cowser – Hayden and Jackson Hillman; Bertha Giddings – Kaidyn Williams; Wanda Hanna – Ryder Huddleston; Donna Hillman – Hayden and Jackson Hillman; Nell Huddleston – Ryder Huddleston; Millie Jones – Cannon Breedlove; Karen Moseley – Ben Moseley.

New members and the team members that they are representing are:
Sara Adams – Cannon Adams; Renee Hill – Matthew Smith; Betty Knotts – Jaxon Gates; Pat Messick – Kane Dortlon and Jax Hearold; Stephanie McGuffee – Cannon Adams; Brenda Rushing – Landen Barrett and Kyle Guillory; Betty Ware – Zane Givens and John Windham; Dewanna Waters – Cannon Adams.