I was not much of a joiner at Norman High School.
I played football, and that was about it.
But I was a proud member of two organisations that will go down in infamy: the Grandstand Boozers and Alvan’s Army.
Both involved massive amounts of basketball, testosterone and adult beverages.
Not necessarily in that order.
First, background on the Grandstand Boozers.
When you played NHS Tiger football, you didn’t worry about getting detention or expelled.
What did school matter?
Getting benched, or even kicked off the team, was your greatest fear.
That threat always hung over your head, wherever you went, so you always had to behave in public.
And keep your hair short, even in the Seventies, for crying out loud.
But after football was over our senior year, baby, there was nothing to fear.
We grew our hair long and worked really, really hard to be “rude, crude and socially unacceptable” at all times.
Which meant our senior basketball season was destined to be obnoxiously epic.
And it pretty much was, at least in the stands.
The Grandstand Boozers had been around for years, cheering on the Tigers and occasionally chucking a piano onto the basketball court below.
As seniors, we committed ourselves to taking Boozers’ obnoxiousness to a new level.
If we had the Zebras and opposing players worrying, even for a second that we might, oh I don’t know, kidnap their families, then we had done our jobs.
After a few games of increasingly bad behavior and jet-engine-like volume, we were looking for a way to take another step up the obno ladder.
We found our answer while watching a bowl game that featured the “Million Dollar Marching Band” of some second-tier university, like Alabama.
Thus the Grandstand Boozers Million Dollar Kazoo Marching Band and Precision Drill Team (GSBMDKMBAPDT) was born.
We’d even worked out an actual movement in the stands, where several members could actually change places without falling down, all while simultaneously playing kazoos and hurling venomous insults.
Epic, I know, at least for 17-year-old Okie boys.
I have no idea what our Senior basketball team’s record was, but in all modesty, I can attribute several of their wins to our antics in the stands.
Sadly, there are no videos of us hanging over the railing, SCREAMING at the other team and HARANGUING the officials.
Those would have been excellent teaching aids for our children and grandchildren.
“See that. Do NOT behave like that. Now go get me a beer.”
All living cells divide, and cancerous cells divide radically faster than normal cells.
Don’t bother looking this up; this blog is a trained journalist who took biology in 8th grade.
So, as demanded by Mother Nature and Science, the Grandstand Boozers Million Dollar Kazoo Marching Band and Precision Drill Team had to cell divide at some point or die.
The new embryonic organism became known as Alvan’s Army.
Alvan Adams was an All-America Center who played for Oklahoma University from ’72-’75.
Alvan was All-American awesome and also was the oddest basketball player you ever saw.
First off, he was white and 6-9, back when any white guy over 6-4 had to, by law, be in the circus.
Alvan had dark, deep-set eyes, and really deep bags under his eyes.
He also was a straight-A medical student who planned to practice medicine after graduation instead of playing in the NBA.
Despite his oddities, Alvan was the star of the Sooner roundballers.
We loved him to death and were 100% committed to destroying anyone who did not.
Alvan’s Army, 15-20 of Norman High’s finest who were running on high octane liquids, became a force to be reckoned with.
In fact, we were inflammable.
We always sat directly beneath the south basket in OU’s tiny wooden Field House.
Back in those days, the bleachers were only about five feet out of bounds – we could literally reach out and touch the opposition.
And by “opposition” I mainly mean “the stupid Zebras”.
Abnoxious **Alvan’s Army
I have told this story before, but it is worth telling again.
On one legendary night, one of the founding members of Alvan’s Army, who we will not ***name because he grew up to be a Deacon or something, was in full obno mode.
The stupid zebras were blind!
They must have been bribed!
They were almost certainly child-molesters!
So we really let them have it.
At a critical point in one game, the stupidest of the zebras made perhaps the ****worst call ever in the history of the universe.
Directly in front of us.
So Alvan’s Army erupted in one volcanic nuclear explosion of angry spit-emitting teenage fury.
Todd, the guy who I did not name above, was at the epicenter of anger.
He stomped to the very edge of the basketball court in a full-blown rage and slammed his nylon jacket to the ground.
The jacket sort of bull-whipped, with the bottom metal snap striking the Zebra directly on his bulbous honker nose.
Really, really hard.
Now, I have seen people get angry before.
I have seen people come unglued before.
But I have never, ever, seen a grown man, in front of a sold-out Field House crowd, turn bright red and prepare to kill a loud-mouthed teenager with his bare hands.
It was just so great.
Todd quickly back-pedaled, pushing himself deep into the Army, buying just enough time for the Zebra to calm down and walk away.
I can’t recall if this was the same game that Todd was so incredibly obnoxious that an opposing player actually launched a basketball right at his head.
But it was epic nonetheless.
Perhaps not as epic as when Sports Illustrated devoted an entire paragraph to Alvan’s Army.
Or when Alvan’s Army memorabilia was immortalised at Lloyd Noble Centre.
But pretty dang epic.
*See No. 28? That is Hogs.
**Hogs, as usual, is blocked in this historic Alvan’s Army photo by all his stupid taller friends
**** A foul? Against Alvan??? It was a travesty.
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