As students watched APSU’s football game on Sept. 16, 2017, they witnessed the first football win since 2014.
For senior marketing major Zakk Schaf and junior public relations major Jax Keith, such a momentous event deserved special celebration, and after hours of manual labor and last-minute planning, they and the student body succeeded in tearing down APSU’s goal posts.
Keith and Schaaf are fraternity brothers in Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity Inc., and it was Schaaf who learned Coach Will Healy had given permission to take down the goal posts.
“I heard about Healy’s announcement about two days before the game,” Schaaf said. “Someone messaged me and said ‘The goal posts are coming down Saturday. Make sure you are there.’”
For Schaaf, such an opportunity was integral to his love of the sport in general. When APSU won the OVC tournament in 2015, the crowd tried to rush the court. Schaff was the only one to break through security and make it onto the court.
“For me, it has been an iconic part of football, and it normally only happens in big schools. You win a championship, beat your rivals or end a losing streak, and you just tear down your goal posts. The fact we had a chance to do that meant a lot to me.”
Taking out the goal posts, however, was more complicated than first appearances would imply. For one, they were not sure if APSU would even win the game until that night, and even then, it was unclear how they would take down the posts in the first place.
“At about two minutes left on the clock, we went to the edge of the gate, and as we are waiting for the game to end, someone says ‘Hey, does anyone know how to tear down a field goal post?’” Keith said. “We started googling YouTube videos on how other schools did it.”
The posts themselves were about 40 years old and cemented into the ground. They had to be resourceful.
The brothers and other students assisted in removing the support beams on both sides, but the students could not get the posts themselves out of the ground.
“We were struggling big time,” Schaaf said. “We ended up having to find some power tools.” The tools needed for the job included a grinder and power saws, and then “We just started cutting.”
After cutting around the bolts, then cutting and hammering off the bolts themselves, they managed to ease the goal post out of the ground, marking their success.
“And then the alumni claimed that [goal post],” Schaff said. “We looked down at the other end and saw some students going at the other one with a two-person handsaw” like they were cutting down a tree, realized they could not leave those students to their own devices, “and we just jumped in with them.”
Not only did the fraternity brothers have to find a way to remove 40-year-old goal posts from a cement foundation, they had to do it twice.
As the students stood around the goal post as it laid on the ground, the next course of action was to decide what to do with it.
“As we were standing around, I just said, ‘Well, I got my truck,’” Schaff said.
It took three people sitting on the bed of his truck to keep the goal post in place as they drove away.
“We passed so many people who honked at us as we drove,” Keith said. “We passed a few cops who had pulled people over doing drug searches, and they just kind of stared at us as we drove by.”
Keith spoke on some of the commentary on the event when videos of the goal posts coming down reached social media.
“After the videos came out, I saw the backlash from people like ‘This is reckless destruction of property,” Keith said.
“I was like ‘We were told we could do it,’” Schaff said. “The new goal posts were already ordered.”
“I think it meant a lot more to students than people realized,” Keith said.
To them, the act of removing the goal posts itself was not important, but the fact they had the honor to do so in the first place was why they did it at all.
“For as long as I’ve been here, I have seen APSU win two football games,” Schaaf said.
With APSU’s recent win against Murray State Saturday, the wins represent a change in atmosphere and students’ perceptions of athletics.
After dislodging the goal posts from the football field, various campus organizations claimed pieces of the post, including the Governor’s Own Marching Band, the football team and Sigma Chi Fraternity Inc.
Sigma Phi Epsilon’s piece currently rests in the backyard of their fraternity house, propped against a fence.
The fraternity said it plans on possibly turning it into a miniature goal post of its own for their personal use using PVC pipes.
“This is, without a doubt, a story I am going to tell my kids,” Keith said.