With the marching band on the track, cheerleaders on the sidelines and fans in the stands, Thursday's Free State Fall Sports Jamboree provided athletes, coaches and fans with a small taste of the season to come.
Athletic director Mike Hill estimated a crowd of 700 showed up at the school's campus to support the Firebirds as the football team scrimmaged and the other sports teams were introduced.
He said the event was a fun way to get the year under way.
"It's just a great way to start off the fall sports season and get our kids and our parents involved," said Hill, adding that the coaches like having the opportunity to put their players through game-like situations.
"The coaches think that's an important part of getting their team ready," he said.
The festivities opened with the sophomore football team scrimmaging while cross country runners circled the game on the track as they ran the mile.
Varsity and junior varsity football players followed with a scrimmage of their own. They ran onto the field to a standing ovation from the fans who filled the limited bleachers at Free State's track.
Throughout the scrimmage, fans were introduced to student-athletes from other fall sports. Members of the girls tennis, gymnastics, volleyball, girls golf, boys soccer and cheer and pom squads waved to the crowd as their names were announced on the public-address system.
Senior quarterback Craig Rosenstengle said the Jamboree was a pleasant break from practice.
"It's fun playing in front of a crowd, playing against your boys, a little rivalry playing against your own teammates," he said. "It was nice to go full contact for once."
Rosenstengle said the scrimmage was a good way to start his senior campaign.
"We were trying to work our plays against a live defense, it felt good," he said.
After the scrimmage, Rosenstengle, his teammates and a portion of the crowd headed to the Free State gym to watch the volleyball team scrimmage.
The varsity girls, wearing black, took on the junior varsity, in green, as members of the sophomore team officiated and kept score.
Fans and athletes filled the bleachers that were partially pulled out on one side of the gym and many late-comers from the football field had to stand to watch the action.
Senior Kelsey Allen said she and her teammates were excited about playing in front of the crowd.
"It's a good chance for us to see how well we're going to be able to play with each other," Allen said.
Sophomore wide receiver and defensive back Camren Torneden, who recently moved to Lawrence from Texas, came away impressed by his first Free State experience.
"I like the fans. They back you up," Torneden said.