I’m an odd duck; my favorite sports are football – well, soccer in this case – and cricket. Ever since I was a kid, I was stuck on Pele and (find a cricket player from the early 80s). In junior high, during PE and major sports, my favorite thing was soccer.
So, when I was tasked to shot my first Locomotive game, I was excited. I also must admit, I watched more of the game than I should have. Should have been shooting more photos.
Before the game started, I heard these drums and saw these people marching between the field and the Scottish Rite Temple. They were waving flags, cheering, and having a blast. At first, I thought it was a promotional thing the Locomotive was doing, something to get the fans riled up and excited for the game.
It turns out; it was more than that.
This group of people marched right into Southwest University Stadium and even had their place set aside for them. I had to know just who these people were, what they were doing, and why they reminded me of soccer fans at every MLS game I’ve ever attended or shot.
Who are they? They call themselves the 8th Notch.
Before yesterdays game against LA Galaxy, I met with Louis Cepeda, the president of the 8th Notch, the official fan club of the El Paso Locomotive FC.
I had to ask him not just who they are, beyond their name, and why they are.
“We’re just a group of soccer fans that got together and wanted to support the team. We do whatever we can to push them on and let them know where we’re behind him,” says Luis Cepeda.
The 8th Notch began as two separate groups, before merging into one super group.
“When the team was announced way back last March, there were two groups that popped up,” says Luis. “One was Six Shooters; the other was Bridgetown Brigade. Bridgetown Brigade, they’ve known each other for a long time. Six shooters were the group that I was involved with, right. We were just trying to do our own thing. As time went on, we discuss things and we just kind of just figured it was better for us to all come together and have one voice.”
But the name, how did they get the name. It seems a non sequitur. Even after Googling the name, I still had no idea.
“Well,” began Louis “it’s the highest setting in a locomotive. So, it means full throttle, the highest acceleration in a locomotive. Pretty much full throttle on a locomotive.”
All they did was switch it from Notch 8 to 8th Notch.
I was invited to watch the game with them, march with them, experience the game with them. Let me tell you; it took the Locomotives game to a whole new level!
Marching from Whiskey Blonde to the stadium was electric. Each member of the 8th Notch was alive with excitement. As we drew closer to the Santa Fe gate, they grew more intense.
The crowds that were queued up to get into the stadium were feeding off their energy. Everyone grew more excited as the 8th Notch continued their chant. It was intense. It was also a precursor to what sitting with them and watching the game was going to be like.
As the members of the 8th notch found their seats, they were ready for the game to begin. They were excited and wanted to share that excitement with everyone there.
Their cheers, their power was not only palpable, but contagious.
It took me back to the Penn-Jersey Spirit game in Ewing, New Jersey, one of the first games I ever shot from both the field and the stadium.
Even before the game began, 8th Notch was powered up! The drums, the chants, the non-stop cheering and beer showers when the team scored.
It was amazing, and I wish I had a 1/10th of the energy these guys had. If you’ve never experienced a game with a group of fans that are running full throttle, then you need to get on out there and join them!
They meet at Whiskey Blond, located at Speaker 1: (508 West San Antonio Avenue) open Wednesday through Sunday 2:00 PM to 2:00 AM.
Jacob Perez is one of the owners, and he and his team are great, I felt at home, and I don’t visit bars at all. This one, I’ll hit up again.
Throughout the game the 8th Notch cheered the Locomotives on and worked their best to take away any game spirit the LA Galaxy may have had. It was great!
In the end, the Locomotive took the game 3 to 0 (With for me was bittersweet. I’m an El Paso boy by I was rooting for the Galaxy).
Take a moment and watch the video of 8th Notch below and check out the interview with both Louis of 8th Notch and Jacob of Whiskey Blonde above. You’ll be glad you did!