Think Pink: Panther can’t be caught
By Tony Graf firstname.lastname@example.org October 13, 2012 1:16AM
The Plainfield North Tiger fires up the crowd before their football game against Minooka in Plainfield Friday, October 12, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 15, 2012 6:43AM
PLAINFIELD — The crowd noise on Friday may have obscured the subtly elusive notes of the saxophone and Henry Mancini’s theme music.
Nevertheless, Garret Ryan was on the trail of the Pink Panther during the football game between Plainfield North and Minooka high schools.
The Plainfield junior’s name might be Ryan. But that’s Inspector Jacques Clouseau to you, Monsieur.
Clouseau was dressed in classic form, including a long beige coat, black tie and fedora. He chased the Plainfield North mascot through the grandstands and sidelines, providing comic relief for fans. Meanwhile, Minooka defenders were chasing an elusive Crimson blur named Kendall Interial, who scored a touchdown on a 95-yard kickoff return to begin the second half.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with the theme color of pink. High schools have been showing support across the area — from Minooka to Jolliet to Paris Nord (Plainfield North, for those of you who are not getting into this jazz saxophone thing).
The support continued on Friday night: Announcer Matt Trusk read the names of breast-cancer survivors as they paraded on the track, all to the wild cheers of fans during halftime. Teacher Kerri McCastland, who wore a bright pink wig, thought of the idea for the parade. She used local newspaper ads to seek out and invite the survivors who were honored at the game.
The Pink Panther skit was a clever reinforcement of the pink theme. After the survivors’ parade, Ryan danced in his Clouseau costume for the crowd, along with sharp-dressed sophomores Jorel Chua and Josh Helgeson. Chua, accentuating his suit with a pink shirt and pink-velvet tie, was a supporter of cancer survivors and a true bon vivant.
Mary Anderson, a parent volunteer for the Athletic Boosters, sold Plainfield North spirit wear at a table, part of the fundraising effort for the team. Earlier in the night, students could buy pink bandanas at the table to show support for cancer survivors.
Mary’s son Max plays on the sophomore football team and her son Sam is on the freshman squad. However, The Herald-News needed a French student to aid in the search for the Pink Panther — so Mary pointed out her daughter Caitlyn, who took French classes for four years at North before graduating in 2010.
Caitlyn, a college softball player attending Austin Peay State University in Tennessee, was mystified when asked where the Pink Panther could be.
“All I can think of is the Louvre,” she said, smiling.
Tom and Kristin Ketelhut are the parents of offensive lineman Kiefer Ketelhut. Kristin put together the Boosters table on Friday night. For three years now, she has participated in Booster efforts with Michele Yost, whose son Zack also is an offensive lineman.
Tom and Kristin had to laugh: An enormous photograph of their son Kiefer, wearing a cowboy hat, was waved around in the student cheering section on Friday night.
It was Senior Night and many students waved enlarged photographs of senior football players. Corey Evak had pictures of Kiefer and offensive coordinator John Darlington. The dimensions of the images had to be at least 3.5 feet by 2 feet.
“We just wanted to exemplify and show our appreciation for our football players and the great job they’ve done and to show the legacy that they’ve left for the upcoming classes. And to show the fun that they’ve had,” said Zach Trusk, who had a 2-foot-by-1.5-foot photograph of linebacker Collin Holt.
If only the Pink Panther’s presence was so obvious ...
As Plainfield North strove toward a 28-20 triomphe, Clouseau continued to chase the mascot.
Who is this mascot? Some have speculated he is Sam Shahed, a senior at Plainfield North. However, when The Herald-News tracked him down, he wasn’t talking. Silence is part of the Pink Panther intrigue.
That’s well and good, but a reporter has to do his job.
“S’il vous plait, Monsieur. Parlez-vous francais?”
He gave the thumbs-up sign, as if to say, “Oui, oui.”