The Great Falls High and CM Russell teams play the majority of their home games on the Siebel Soccer Park in Great Falls, Montana.
In many ways, the sports field is similar to many other arenas in the United States. But the Siebel Soccer park has inspired a special tradition, thanks to its location.
After a video emerged on social media of the unique practice that’s now become common at the park, it quickly gather a lot of attention.
On a Tuesday afternoon, the Bison girls were hosting Butte in a Class AA playoff game.
Suddenly, a familiar sound was heard in the distance.
Immediately, in the middle of the 1-0 game, both teams froze and the head referee stopped the clock for a minute.
Luckily for us, one spectator recorded the incident, which was so simple yet so powerful a gesture.
The familiar sound that brought the game to a pause was actually the national anthem, which plays over the speakers at Malmstrom Air Force Base, directly across the street from the Siebel Soccer Park.
Every day at 4:30 p.m., the anthem plays as the United States flag is lowered from its perch overlooking the base and the city, Montana Sports reports.
All the girls knew what to do – the head referee decided to stop the play clock as teams paid their respect to the flag. Some players also placed their hands over their hearts. The audience then followed suit.
Normally, the soccer teams are only practicing when the anthem plays, and they usually stop to honor the flag.
However, on this particular Tuesday afternoon, when the national anthem played, the girls on the field were in the middle of the a game.
But it has not always been that way.
The tradition started when CMR girls coach Willie Pyette took over the Rustler program and moved practice to the Siebel Soccer Park.
After becoming coach and moving the team’s activities to the park, Willie Pyette could not help but notice the daily tradition at the military base. He then decided to make it part of his team’s practice.
Now the Bison and Rustlers always stop whatever they’re up to, which is usually just practice, and face east with their hands over their heart. As the national anthem plays, they stand at attention, and pay their respect to the flag.
Only after the anthem is finished do activities resume.
Pyette doesn’t want the tradition to be seen as a political statement but rather a sign of respect to the service members at Malmstrom and beyond.
”I have our team stop, stand at attention and honor the anthem. Then we go back to practice. We all stand and show respect”, ” Pyette said.
He then added that this unique tradition will continue for as long as soccer games are played in the afternoon at Siebel Soccer Park.
I think that the National Anthem stands for all the liberties that many people in our country take for granted.
Instead of standing in honor of those liberties and ideals, we’ve seen many who have protested against the anthem for the times they feel the country has fallen short of realizing them.
But that’s not the case in Siebel Soccer Park, though, as the surprised spectators at this game saw.
Even in the middle of a game, these soccer girls remembered what is really important: Showing respect for our anthem and our flag honors the people who fought for our freedom.
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