College

Thursday, Sep 08 2011 10:18 PM

BC to honor vets, firemen, police at Saturday's game

BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer jevans@bakersfield.com

If you're a vet, firefighter or police officer, Bakersfield College officials want you at Saturday's Saddleback College-at-BC game in Memorial Stadium.

BC is holding a tribute game in which all military, police and fire personnel will be admitted free with proof of service or employment with a military, fire or police agency, including veterans.

Saturday's kickoff is 7 p.m.

"When I looked at our schedule and I saw we had a game the day before 9/11, automatically I said we had to do something," said Ryan Beckwith, BC's new athletic director.

Beckwith grew up in a military household -- his father was in the Air Force. But his family ties go beyond that.

"My father-in-law is a former firefighter and my uncle a former police officer," he said. "The main idea of this is to show our appreciation to these people and so something on a large scale.

"How often can you put 5,000 to 8,000 people in one place? And what's a better venue than a football game?"

Beckwith said the city and county will each provide a fire engine to the event and a huge American flag will be present.

A color guard is planned and a group of local motorcycle clubs, consisting of former military personnel representing the five service branches, will participate in a halftime ride inside the stadium. One of the riders is a Korean War veteran, according to Ben Patten, a U.S. Army vet who is coordinating the motorcycle festivities. "I keep getting calls, but right now I have 30 committed bikes with 50 people," Patten said Thursday night.

A moment of silence is planned for halftime, Beckwith added.

"It's to pay homage to everyone who has served our country and for those who gave their lives serving our country," Beckwith said.

The tailgate theme goes along with 9/11: the best patriotic tailgater will win $500.

Saturday will also be a reunion of the 1981 BC squad that went 9-2, capped by a 27-13 win over favored Taft in the Shrine Potato Bowl before 18,927 in Memorial Stadium, a victory that longtime BC followers consider one of the most notable in BC's football-playing history.

The Renegades beat a Taft team that entered the game 10-0 and had limited opponents to nine points or fewer in eight games.

Also on Saturday, the BC cross country and track programs will be holding a coat drive.

Football fans are encouraged to bring a new or gently used men's or women's coat to the game.

Any coats collected will be donated to the local Volunteer Center.

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