Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

My heart never beat so fast during a football game.

Sitting in my living room, surrounded by my brother, our significant others and our cousins, I was holding my breath. In fact, I was holding my breath so hard that my cousin, Jessica Wayman, who is a nurse, said, “Breathe, Katie, because I don’t want to do CPR tonight.”

From the second the Kansas City Chiefs took the lead to 24-20 against the San Francisco 49ers in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl Feb. 2, I was on the edge of my seat. With just two minutes, 44 seconds left in the game, I knew that it just might happen; the Chiefs might just be world champions.

Then, as soon as running back Damien Williams ran the ball into the end zone once again, which resulted in a 31-20 lead for the Chiefs after kicker Harrison Butker successfully obtained the extra point, with 1:12 left, I knew that was it.

I doubled over, tears running down my cheeks as the final seconds of the game seemed to take forever to run down just so that it could be official — the Kansas City Chiefs were the Super Bowl LIV champions.

Katie Peterson takes a selfie before the Kansas City Chiefs game versus the Baltimore Ravens Sept. 22, 2019, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs won the game 33-28. Photo by Katie Peterson/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Having grown up in the Leavenworth area my entire life, I’ve always been around Chiefs fans in my family, and kind of paid attention, but it wasn’t necessarily my favorite thing. Then, in 2014, a friend invited me over to watch the Chiefs game and everything changed. I finally realized the excitement of the game, the passion the players have, and the way it brings people from all around the world together. I’ve been a loyal fan ever since, attending games, watching the roster change, obtaining merchandise, creating a Chiefs-themed Christmas tree, which stays up weeks after Christmas until the Chiefs’ season is over, and even writing my own theme song for the team.

Yes, for five years I’ve been a faithful fan, but it wasn’t until the week leading up to the Super Bowl (and the night of) that I truly saw what really makes it so special, with the sense of community reigning supreme.

I can talk about the Kansas City Chiefs for hours, so when the Fort Leavenworth Lamp staff realized Unified School District 207 schools were having a Super Bowl Spirit Week, it was my chance to write about it, too. As I spoke with Ryan Wiebe, Patton Junior High School principal, and some of the teachers responsible for Patton’s spirit week, I began to realize that sports are just another way to help military children, who might not be able to identify a true hometown (and by default, a hometown team), feel as if they are a part of something bigger than themselves or their situation.

For the entire week, students and staff donned gear honoring Patrick Mahomes to Tyreek Hill to the team as a whole, and the sense of celebration was high in the air.

The sense of community and coming together with loved ones continued for me with the watch party my brother and I hosted. We’ve been close to our cousins on my dad’s side for quite a few years, regularly getting together for “cousin nights” where we play games, go to escape rooms, or watch movies, but this one was different. It was a full-fledged party complete with a buffet of food, laughter (and debates) watching the highly anticipated Super Bowl commercials, anger over bad calls and pure joy with every point the Chiefs made.

It was a sense of love when my brother, Patrick, who doesn’t necessarily get into the games as much as I do, helped me throw the party just because he knew how excited I was.

Finally, perhaps for the first time, I really saw the sense of community within the team itself as it all became official. For 20 years, Andy Reid has been a head coach, first with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2012 before taking over as head coach for the Chiefs. He has seen his teams reach every game including the AFC/NFC conference championships, but never coached a team to win the Super Bowl. From the moment the Chiefs knew they had the win, players and staff swarmed Reid with many of them saying, more than anything, they wanted to get the win for him.

Community. Family. Love. Who would have thought those were the words that would be closest to my heart after the Super Bowl?

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