It used to be that if you wanted information on the goings-on in Falmouth, you made your way to Stone's or Andy's Barber Shop, and either those with the scissors and lollipops or those hanging out on the benches and chairs would have all the answers and local news. While that is still true, in fact I still test some of my weekly content at Dickie and Phil Stone's Main Street landmark business (I chat with Andy but he doesn't get near my haircut), another Falmouth business has become one of the places to gather information on the mood and machinations of Falmouthites: Wal Mart.
During my customary visits for paper towels, candy corn and T-gel, I regularly encounter both shoppers and workers who are eager to offer their thoughts and opinions on the state of local affairs. From Frank the greeter, who has his eyes on a Selectman's seat, to Ted the customer service manager, who always wears a smile, the former Bradlees has become a hub of local info.
At the Falmouth Wal-Mart this past weekend, I noticed something different other than the relocation of virtually everything in the store. As I walked around, still disoriented by a reorganization that has caused me to walk in circles many times, I noticed a little extra spring in each shopper's step, and smiles just a little wider than normal. As I queried John, the always-jolly checkout person, I asked him if he noticed that people were just a little happier than usual. "Do you live in this town?" he asked. Trying to contain a self-centered chuckle and resisting the flat-out arrogance of a "do you know who I am?" I nodded in the affirmative. "Well," said John with a bit of a scolding voice, "You should know then that the football team is undefeated and just swamped Plymouth North." I studied carefully the sea of Falmouth's humanity that wandered almost gleefully through Teaticket Highway's retail mecca. John was right. I listened closely and heard the buzz - and detected the excitement.
Then it hit me and I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I had to share in this column. Despite our financial woes and our Town Hall quarrels, this group of a few dozen young men bound together by their common identity as players on the Falmouth Clippers football team, have changed our collective mood from gloom to glory and united a community. For that deserve our recognition and praise. Coach Dana Almeida has instilled a Patriot-esque belief in his players where they hit the gridiron each weekend with the belief that they can win. And win they have. After an epic upset of BC High, the barbershop banter and Wal-Mart conversations took a significant upturn to the positive. With the never-before trouncing of Plymouth North last weekend, the optimism for this team has turned into all-out bubbling civic pride, the likes of which we haven't seen in many seasons. Each and every player, coach, and team helper deserve a slice of that appreciation pie.
I know what it's like to be standing in front of screaming fans on the 50-yard line and feeling the pressure to perform. I did it for Falmouth High and before tens of thousands of Eagle fans at BC - in the band. Seriously, though, the impact of this team's success on our community cannot be overstated. At a time when our financial confidence is at a nadir and faith in our local leaders' ability to boost that confidence at equal depths, the performance of Clippers like offensive standouts Mike Thines and Nelson Baptiste and defensive stalwarts Lucio Licciardi and John Lavin has given many in our community a renewed sense that something is right in Falmouth.
I won't predict what will happen from here, and I certainly won't curse our team's success by making any predictions. This team is already a success. Whatever happens from here, these players have brought back pride to a town struggling to feel good. As a fan, a citizen, and a former 50-yard line-guy, I say thanks. Go Falmouth!
Author's note: Since writing this column, the Clippers did indeed lose a game, but like I said, whatever happens from here, these players have accomplished something no local official has been able to do.
This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Enterprise.