In rural communities, Friday night football or Saturday night basketball at the local high school draws people together to cheer for their favorite team.
Ashland, Kan. is no different.
Roughly a week after the fire tore through Clark and Comanche Counties, the Ashland High Blue Jays basketball team was on the court, competing in the Kansas state tournament.
At a time when players, cheerleaders, and fans in this town had wildfire on their collective minds, the spark of community spirit energized and galvanized their love for each other.
Greg Gardiner, co-owner of the Gardiner Angus Ranch, lost nearly 500 cattle in the blaze. His brother, Mark, is the head coach of the Blue Jays. Greg was at the game, despite the losses on the farm to support the team.
The feelings he felt that night at the gym washed over him.
“A lot of us are tired of looking at the carnage and dealing with everything,” said Greg. “When they played our local fight song, that was the spirit of the community, banding together.”
Ashland lost to Wallace County, 51-34.