My husband played in High School. He went to the state championship game...and lost. He was too short to play college ball, and ended up serving in the military after High School. I attended one football game in HS. I think I left before half time.
My introduction to football began when M. was eight, playing on the local Jr. league team. I know some mothers hesitate to start their boys in tackle football at a young age, but I wasn't. There really wasn't any stopping them! They wanted it, and it was something they shared with their dad. I never worried about injuries. Life happens. And I want them to live life. I trust my husband's expertise in the matter of raising boys.
M. shares his dads passion. Oh, his first year of football! They lost more than they won, and every losing game, I'd watch for that little eight year old frame to trudge off the field. I know him by his walk. Tears streaming down his mud stained face, head hanging. He gave every bit of himself in every game he played! Physically and emotionally! He was driven. He was homeschooled at the time and even back then, he would wear his game jersey to our homeschool co op. He was proud!
During M.'s last year of Jr. league, he outgrew his age! There wasn't an ounce of fat on him and he was trying to drop weight. The league we were with had a weight limit. M. was unable to lose the weight he needed, and so, was unable to play. That was their winning year. He stood on the sidelines every game, and helped his dad coach his littlest brother's team. The boys he had played with for the last six years, his brother included, were going to the championship game...without him. That's one game I will never forget. The kids were so excited, they were playing under the lights at the high school! I sat in the stands with him, and as the clock wound down, and we knew we were going to win, it was a frenzy of conflicting emotions! B. was on the team, and I was happy for B! And next to me sat M., watching others celebrate the victory that he so longed for, for the past six years. And just like when he was eight, I watched the tears roll down his face while he sat in the stands looking on as his brother, teammates, and fans rushed the field to celebrate. I can't tell you how much my heart hurt for him!!
In some states, you can homeschool your kids and they can still play sports for the public schools. Not in Michigan. After much consideration, we chose to enroll M. in the local public High School...for football. That really was our only reason! I could not stand in the way of his dreams. Since then he has made the JV team as a freshman. I was glad for him as this victory came on the heels of the previous years Championship drama. As a sophomore, he was pulled up to varsity. Four games into the season, he broke his foot in practice. After getting word at the doctors office that his foot was indeed broken, he kept it together until he left the office. We made it to a bench in the lobby and he couldn't even stand, he was crushed. I had a six foot 215 lb. "man" sobbing on my shoulder. All he wanted was to play. God it hurts! I wanted nothing more than to have my foot broken instead of his. Holding on to each other, and me crying with him, we sat in the lobby like that for 15 minutes. It's an emotional roller coaster, this game!
This year, he made captain. Proud is putting it mildly! He has shown dedication and leadership and was recognized for it. He's not a partier. He has a few close friends. Football motivates his GPA. He wants to play college ball. The first day of summer vacation, he was at the school, in the weight room. If the High School's weight room was open over the summer, he was there! He brought along his brothers with him. He and his father have influenced them. And this year B. begins his freshman year at the same school M. attends. Following in his brothers footsteps, he too made the JV team. B. shows the same willingness and commitment to work hard to achieve his goals. I'm glad that it's his brother that's his role model.
Through it all, Mark has been their biggest fan. Mark's been at every practice. He coached for six years. I don't think he's ever missed one of their games. He doesn't belittle mistakes. He IS one hell of a cheerleader! He's the dad that the whole student body knows, because of his booming voice cheering on the boys from the stands, and his ability to keep everyone entertained! Mark will sit with the boys after school and watch video of the weeks previous game. He is commited to them.
At last weeks game, he went up to the school an hour and a half before the game started, just because he was excited. I drove up to drop off some snacks and drinks so I wouldn't have to carry them later, and there he sat, top row, right under the press box (so he can hear what they say), alone and waiting, just staring out at the field. I tease him. I tell him he's living vicariously through the boys, but he's not. He shares their passion for the game! He's never forced them to play, but he won't let them quit something they've made a commitment to. He tears up at the Kenny Chesney song "Boys of Fall", and in turn, so do I. He loves watching them play. And he's proud of the men they are becoming. I still have a hard time understanding the game of football. What I do understand is the bond that it is between my husband and his sons. I love that they share it. I don't mind being on the outside looking in.
|Soo long ago. So little. I love this pic.|