The motto of ultimate sacrifice lives on at BHS
The Annual Soldier Tribute Game will take place on Friday, November 4, 2022.
One thing that comes along with football season is a bittersweet tradition unlike any other. Military service is one of the most selfless acts one human being could provide to their nation. You put yourself on the line everyday with the feeling in the back of your mind that every day might be your last. Yet despite that reality you’re willing to give it all up in the name of having your people’s backs’.
That story of selflessness is one that reminds me and many others in the Valley of Broadway native and hero, Brian “Bucky” Anderson.
Bucky was a student at Broadway High School in the early 2000’s, graduating in 2004. He participated in football and wrestling, the latter of which resulted in multiple state honors including the ultimate honor of the sport, two state championships. After his decorated career at BHS, Bucky enlisted in the military, serving in the U.S. Army, until paying the ultimate price with his life when he was killed in action on June 12, 2010 while serving in Afghanistan.
His passing and ultimate sacrifice remains a constant memory for the students and staff at Broadway High School as well as throughout the tight-knit Broadway community. To this day, Bucky’s number, 21, remains the only retired number in school history.
To me and many others Bucky represents our area as a whole. His spirit is felt every time we walk up to the game field no matter the occasion. And without fail I always take a moment in front of his statue which always gives me the extra push to give everything I have on the field for my kids, fellow coaches, and the community as a whole. His memory is felt in our locker room. Where locker #21 is dedicated to him. Some of his belongings such as his football, wrestling and, most importantly, his military uniform remain in the locker room for everyone to see.
That locker is a beautiful tribute to an incredible man. A man who has inspired us for a lifetime. I know that no matter what is going on in my life I’ll always be able to take a quick moment in front of his locker or statue to give myself the extra jolt when the going gets tough.
Bucky’s memory sparked a tradition that takes place every year here at BHS; the Soldier Tribute Game.
The Soldier Tribute Game was started by former BHS Football Coach Brad Lutz. Each game that was played while Lutz was the Head Coach was in memory of a fallen soldier. However, the final home game of each season was reserved for our local hero, Bucky.
The Soldier Tribute Game has also captured national attention. In 2016, the game was featured on the National Football League’s “Together We Make Football” celebration in preparation for Super Bowl 50. The NFL sent a film crew to Broadway to film the Soldier Tribute Game. For the celebration, former Green Bay Packers Quarterback and NFL Hall of Fame member, Brett Favre, visited the area, sitting down with Bucky’s mother, Margaret Anderson, to learn more about Bucky. As a final prize for their work on the Soldier Tribute Game, Coach Lutz and Ms. Anderson were selected to attend Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California.
For each Soldier Tribute Night game, the Broadway Football team always wears military inspired uniforms that highlight a different branch and their unique one of one uniforms every year. I can tell you from experience the reveal of the uniform is always a special time for everyone on the team. Coach Grogg does an unbelievable job of designing the uniforms to be as unique as possible to pay tribute to our nation’s heroes. Prior to the start of the game, one current BHS player is selected to wear the special #21 jersey for the game. Being selected to wear the #21 jersey for the Soldier Tribute Game in one of the highest honors a BHS Football player can achieve.
My personal, and definitely unbiased, favorite uniform over the years was the one from my senior year that never got to see the light of day due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The uniform was our usual winged helmet with a white jersey that had a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk on one shoulder with a saying on the back. The saying read: "Got Your Six".
When I received my jersey at the end of my senior year I got to research what exactly the motto meant and why it was on the back of our jerseys. The answer made complete sense and brought the whole meaning together. "Got Your Six" originates from World War I pilots which translates to “I got your back”. That saying has been on each Soldier Tribute jersey ever since. It’s a saying that means so much more than could be put into words. It’s a saying that lets your loved one’s no matter where they are know that I’ve got your back no matter what. I do whatever I can to help you no matter what. And to me, that’s what this is all about.
2021 Soldier Tribute Game: Landon Stuhlmiller wears the #21 jersey in memory of Brian "Bucky" Anderson
Locker #21 in the BHS Football Locker Room in memory of Bucky Anderson