CARTHAGE, Mo. — Being a fan of any team takes commitment. Try nearly 50 years of supporting the same school and you have a super fan. Carthage High School has two of them.
If you’ve ever been at a Carthage football, baseball, or even a basketball game, you’ve probably seen Gary “Tree” Haggard and Terry “Stump” Prine. Tree and Stump never miss a practice or a game. It’s like saying you can’t have a tree without a stump.
“They are the definition of dedication and commitment,” Carthage head football coach Jon Guidie said. “It’s not just football. I call them three-sport athletes because these guys are here for football, they’re here for basketball, they’re here for baseball, they don’t miss.”
Tree and Stump are graduates of Carthage High School, where they were eventually given their nicknames based on their difference in size. Take one look at Tree standing next to Stump and you’ll understand why. But their love for the Tigers has never left them.
It could be after a big win, a tough loss, a home or away game, the duo only wears the blue and white.
“They don’t ever have a bad day,” Guidie said. “No matter what’s going on, they’re the same guy every single day . . . They just want to win and they just want to be a part of it.”
It doesn’t matter the sport or the team, if it’s Carthage, they’ll bring that same level of energy and positivity.
“We don’t go anywhere in our conference, even outside of our conference, where people don’t know about Tree and Stump,” Carthage head boys basketball coach Nathan Morris said. “They’ll probably recognize Tree before they recognize us and the kids.”
You might wonder where would Carthage be without Tree and Stump on the sidelines, or courtside for a big basketball game? Stump thinks that’s a good question, but it’s a feeling unlike any other.
“It’s just real special, I love it,” Stump said. “The thing about this team, without me, they’ll be like, ‘Where’s Stump? They should be here about now, it’s game time.’ I’m here all the time anyway, unless it’s thundering, lightening, or pouring down, or snowing, I ain’t here. I stay at home.”
Tree added that it feels good knowing when people at Carthage recognize them as being the school’s number one fans.
Players and coaches have come and gone over the years, but Tree and Stump have stood tall — they’re inseparable. If you give Stump a t-shirt, you better give Tree one as well.
This relationship, this amount of support for Carthage, blossomed many years ago and it’s going to keep growing because you won’t meet any other super fans like Tree and Stump.
“Hopefully, they’re here for many more years to come,” Morris said. “But I think it’s pretty special that we’ve got two guys that have seen multiple decades of Carthage athletics.”