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Official Review by Harrison Huntley, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
In the football-crazed state of South Carolina, the Goose Creek Gators were once a mediocre team. Sure, they made the playoffs sometimes and posted over-.500 records, but they never achieved anything greater. That changed with the hiring of new football coach Chuck Reedy. Since his hire, the Gators have only missed the playoffs once and have climbed their way to national recognition. After winning the state title in 2011, John Fulmer Field was treated to renovations. Overall, Fulmer Field reflects the famous culture of South Carolina high school football with its fans and overall atmosphere.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The concessions offerings are just what you would expect at a high school football game. There are burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, and pizza. Along with several other snack offerings, it's a rather extensive selection. The best part is that all of these options are available for under $4.
High school football draws a unique atmosphere. Almost all in attendance have a deep personal connection to the game. Whether that be a family member on the field or simply hometown pride, just about everyone has a strong rooting interest. Just as with most high schools, Fulmer Field is surrounded by a track, which makes the seats a bit far from the playing field.
The team runs onto the field through an inflatable Goose Creek helmet, and is greeted by cheers of the home fans. Gator fans sit on the east side, while visitors sit on the west side. Both are made up of metal bleachers. If you are coming in unbiased, sit on the home side. You don't want to miss the PA announcer. He is extremely charismatic and very good at keeping everyone in the game.
The city of Goose Creek is one of the bigger suburbs of Charleston, SC. That being said, there isn't too much to do in the immediate vicinity of the school. The school borders a military base on one side, and the rest of the area consists of houses. Most of the food is located on US-52 and US-78, both just a few minutes away. You can find just about any chain restaurant you'd like, but amongst all the usuals, one local deli stands out.
East Bay Deli is a Charleston favorite. It markets itself as a "New York style deli but with a distinctive southern flair." They have all the deli favorites that you would expect, and are all made very well.
As you would expect with a high school stadium, a vast majority of fans are friends and family of the players. Since they have such a strong emotional tie to the game, the fans are very passionate about the team.
The students and band stand at the far end of the stadium around the 20-yard line. With the team's recent success, it should be no surprise that the students come out in full force for most games. The night I attended was "Pinktober," and many were painted black and pink.
The travel time to Goose Creek is completely dependent on the time of day. If you are headed to the game before or after rush hour, you should have no problem getting to the school. On the other hand, traveling at rush hour could make things difficult. Since most games occur around this time, it makes traffic even worse. The main road to Goose Creek is US-52, a road known for its traffic problems. While the traffic is not insufferable, you will need to factor in some extra travel time.
Tickets are $7, which is about the standard for HS football. Parking is free and all the food is reasonably priced. This is about standard pricing for high school football.
The PA announcer at Goose Creek is amazing. He is very personable, and at times, sounds like he is simply having a conversation. Along with his catchphrases like "Pull up your pants cause the creek's-a-risin...", the announcer is a big part of the experience.
A final point for the culture surrounding high school football in the area. Football is a religion in South Carolina, and Goose Creek is a good representation of that. As a newcomer to the state, I was amazed at how serious football really is. From highway signs showing scores to the local news' constant coverage, you can't escape high school football in the Palmetto State.
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