When Chris Long walked in the front door of Quince Orchard High School for the first time in September 1988, he was excited. Everything was new, the floors sparkled and new equipment filled the classrooms. When he was in middle school at Ridgeview Middle, the students were allowed to pick the school colors, the athletic team’s name and the mascot. The majority of the students came from the Seneca Valley district with a sprinkling of Wootton and Gaithersburg students. Contrary to stories that have been told, there was no jealousy or hard feelings between students. Everyone pitched in to promote the school spirit that still exists today.
Long recalled the first football victory in the fall of 1987. There was no World Wide Web, no cell phones and no texting. The only way to learn scores was to read the newspaper the next day or to wait for Monday morning. The Cougars, under the direction of Coach Ernie Ceccato, traveled to the Eastern Shore and beat Wicomico County 7-6 for the school’s first victory. The ball used in the game sits in the trophy case today. Within three years, the Cougars had won the state title.
Long went out for football and made the junior varsity team. When the season started, he found out that he was the third string quarterback and realistically had little chance of playing. A lady in the QO community thought that the school needed a costume for the mascot, so she made the Quincy costume. Since no one volunteered to wear it, Long took over the role and no one suspected that it was him until his senior year.
The Quincy costume had an interesting travel itinerary. Besides appearing in parades that first summer, Long took the costume to London to participate in a mascot competition. He recalled sell-out crowds after the first year and while the Red Army had not yet been named, the tradition of wearing red to games had already started.
After graduating in 1990, Long went to the University of Maryland. One day he received an excited call at his dorm. The student who had been selected to succeed him was in the habit of keeping the Quincy costume in a green trash bag at his house until Friday nights. A well-meaning family member, thinking that the bag was trash, put it at the curb and off to the county dump it went. The new Quincy panicked and thought that Long could solve the problem. Long couldn’t help, thus a new costume had to be quickly made.
While at Maryland and in the early days of his career, Long recalls hustling to the library on Monday morning to browse the newspapers for the Quince Orchard scores. Once the World Wide Web was invented, it made his quest much easier.
Chris Long went on to a career in sports broadcasting. His first job was at a television station in Duluth, Minnesota. After six years in the cold of Duluth, he went to Fort Myers, Florida. After a few more stops he landed a significant job at KSTP in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. He covers the Vikings, Twins and the Wild hockey team. He said that high school hockey is a huge tradition in Minnesota since football cannot be played outside after Nov. 1 due to the weather. A humorous video circulates on the Internet. It shows Long on camera doing his sports report while his iPhone is propped up within his view but out of camera range. On the phone a streaming hockey game can be seen. It was one of the Washington Capitals playoff games.
In 2011, Long came back to the DC area to attend a class reunion. He was very affected by walking around the school after so many years. Long was especially happy to see that the old traditions that his generation had started were still in play. Some 200 to 300 of his former classmates attended the reunion.
Long watched the Cougars win the state championship on a live feed from his television station in Minneapolis. “I had a blast watching on the live stream here at the station. Cougar spirit never leaves you, I guess, especially when you were THE Cougar,” he said. “I was proud to see how many fans were there. It looked cold but nothing like we get up here in Minnesota.”