Part of his tailgating tradition, Frank Lenkowski strikes up the band. And as in every past game, the band turns his direction in response. (Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, October 29, 2012 8:05 PM
When most people hear the word tailgating, they think of sitting in the back of someone’s pickup truck, drinking a couple of beers, grilling a couple of burgers and eventually cheering for the home team during the game.
But members of the Poboys Tailgating Club at McNeese State University have turned this simple pastime into an art form.
On Saturday, the Poboys Club celebrated its 24th consecutive year of tailgating during McNeese homecoming. The group hasn’t missed a home game in nearly a quarter-century, and it seldom misses an away game.
The members live their weekends on the grounds of Cowboy Stadium — a feat that isn’t hard considering the setup they’ve accumulated for tailgating.
The group has employed two midsize RVs, sitting end to end in an L shape, with a large yellow tent in between. There’s a grill in the corner, and two flat-screen TVs showing separate football games at all times. In short, these guys don’t miss the days when they sat in the back of a pickup truck.
“When we first started coming out to games we were on the east side of the stadium, sitting in the back of a pickup truck. We call ourselves the Poboys Club because we started out as the poor boys on the block, and it’s just grown to all of this, after all of these years,” group founder Frank Lenkowski said.
“I started coming out here because I decided that I wasn’t just going to sit at home on Saturday nights, and then I kept meeting other fans, and then eventually we had around 40 members because anyone who came out asked where the happening spot was and they were directed to us. I’ll be out here until I can’t afford it anymore.”
Lenkowski said the team reached its peak when Bobby Keisler was coaching and that since then the group has seen its membership decline, but has managed to keep a core group — him, Hank Hankins, Steve Talbott, Steven Duffy, and Jerry and Jackie Stephens.
Over the years, the group has had its share of memorable tailgating experiences.
“One time someone parked in our spot, so we all got together picked up his car and moved it for him,” Talbott said.
“When McNeese played Marshall in 1995 in the semifinals we were out here at 6:30 in the morning cooking a gumbo for the opposing team; it was freezing and sleeting,” Lenkowski said.
In that spirit, the group’s members said they’re always welcoming of others, whether they’re rooting for McNeese or for the opposing team.
“We just have a passion for football, and we’re not here to make enemies; that’s for inside the stadium during the game,” Lenkowski said. “With tailgating the more people you can bring out here, the better the atmosphere is.”