Friday, November 6, 2009

A Letter To My Son

2009 Friday Night Lights- Final Review

B's last Varsity football game was last night. The team was granted a consolation game against a team from a distant league in the state. The previous day had been very difficult and emotional for me. It was hard to say goodbye and find peace in all the memories and lack thereof from this season. There were two things I decided I needed to do to find peace and closure with my emotions. First, I needed to write a letter to B telling him how proud I was of him. Then, I needed to thank his wide receiver coach for standing by him, and continuing to teach him and find value in him as a teammate, despite his injury.
This is the letter I wrote to my son:

Dear B-
Football is a great sport- a rough one too. I wanted football to teach you lessons about life perhaps not learned quite the same by any other avenue.
I wanted you to measure your strengths and your weaknesses. I wanted you to learn how to make your weaknesses strong. I wanted you to experience what it is like to push yourself physically and mentally harder than you thought you could go- and then push a little further. I wanted you to gain respect: for yourself, your teammates, and your coaches. I hoped you would form friendships that would continue beyond the helmets and pads. Above all else, I wanted you to gain a greater identity of who you are as a son of God. I prayed that you would place your faith and trust in the Lord and yield to His will for you.
Son- you have made your dad and I very proud. My hope for your senior football season was for you to learn the lessons from your opportunities and experiences that would help prepare you for the rest of your life. In fact, I have learned from you. I have watched you face the many difficulties of this season with valiant faith, optimism, and inspiring energy.
I have missed not seeing you shine on the field with receptions, returns, and tackles as I know you could. But my heart rejoices as I watched you shine in the face of such great adversity.
My son, it has been a pleasure to watch you this season. I am grateful for the path you have laid for your brother and sister to walk through. We are blessed to have you in our family.
Now and forever, I’ll always be your biggest fan! I love you!

I placed the letter in his seat of the old 4-Runner, content with my attempt. Later in the day, after dropping off the final batches of brownies to the football locker room, my paths crossed for the first time all season the wide receiver coach. I introduced myself. He smiled and thanked me for the brownies. Trying my best to keep my emotions in check, I attempted to communicate my intense gratitude for him. For over five minutes I tried to find enough words to convey my true appreciation. When I finished as tears began to wet my eyes, he solemnly said, "Wow. Thank you. That made the whole season worth it."
I concluded, "You've touched his life for the better during a very difficult time. I don't know what I or we would have done without you."
We quietly walked our separate ways. A few steps later he turned and thanked me again.
Now I am at peace, and have found closure.
Farewell football fans across the states- for now.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The End Before It Really Much Began

2009 Friday Night Lights – Week 9
I asked too hard of a question.
He agreed.
Yesterday marked the first playoff loser out game for the quest of the State 4A Football Champions. The competition is a 2.5 hour trip from home. We opted not to make the trip as B was not suiting up to play. At 5:00pm I keyed up the internet radio station to make sure we’d be able to listen to the play by play game coverage. I was content with the course before us. B would again be working with the coaching staff on the sidelines managing yardage gained per offensive play, we would sit in the comfort of home away from the elements, cheering on the team from afar.
As I got up from the computer, I tried to imagine seeing the team file one by one from the team bus arriving at the stadium.
With no intentions of doing so, my emotions ran free. I sobbed for him. I was strong and steady the day he dropped the pile of plates as he unloaded the dishwasher because his arm gave way with no strength. I calmed my expression as the doctor told him how serious his injury was and that football within the next year would be unlikely. This time, with no one around to be tough for, I cried. This has been hard for him, and yet he has tried to continue to do his part, to keep a strong faith in God. This has also been hard for me, to watch him have to be mature, and patient beyond his years. I was sad to see his senior year of football end before it really much began.
The team lost soundly to a top ranked team in the state.
We texted back and forth for about twenty minutes as he waited for his teammates to shower and board the bus for the long drive home. We chatted via text about details of the game, the joy he found in his new ‘job’, and then I asked “Are you ready for all of “this” to be over?”
There was no response.
Several minutes passed.
“You there?” I asked
“Yeah.” He texted back.
“Too hard of a question?”
“Way too hard.”
To be continued. . .

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Maybe Sam Bradford Can Help

Now you are caught up with real time. The journey continues. . .

2009 Friday Night Lights- Week 8
Last Saturday, we spent the day chillin’-literally most of the entire day and evening. We were blessed to have a friend of the family visiting for the weekend, enabling us nothing but chillin’ time. At one point, it was just B and I watching the football games in the family room. We watched Oklahoma University Sam Bradford’s post game interview following yet another shoulder injury. We watched, rewound, and watched phrase by phrase again.
This is how it went:
ESPN Q: “How are you feeling right now? What’s going through your head?”
Bradford: “I had a lot of goals. It’s not how I had this season going. But these things have happened and I know God is doing this for a reason right now. I trust Him and know that He has a plan for me. I am just going to bounce back as well as I can.”
B agreed they share something.
This week he has been regaining his strength and stamina. He is not 100% post flu or cold or whatever he had, but he has improved. His shoulder has shown signs of small improvements too. Nevertheless, the last regular season game was played with #21 running the clipboard on the sidelines instead of sharp routes on the field.
The team led at the start of the fourth quarter against a good team 21-7. Unfortunately, the tables turned sharply and we lost 21-35. B arrived home late, said little, grabbed a peanut butter cookie, and headed for bed.
This afternoon I asked him how he felt about the whole thing. He wasn’t much into talking about it. I said, “You seem at peace. Are you?”
“I don’t know, I guess.” He responded.
“Really?” I asked as he didn’t sound very convincing in talk, but in action has been quiet, yet pleasant.
“I think I am good at acting that way. I don’t really know.” He muttered.
“Do you still think things are going good on the sidelines with growth and respect with your coaches?” I wondered as he hasn’t shared much this week with his interactions.
“I think they’ve written me off-nicely.” He confessed.
“How’s that?” I asked, knowing the answer, hoping for some opening.
“It sucks.” (He gave me nothing.)
He said he tried not to think about the stress of next year, not knowing his options. I assured him as he continued to pray and stay close to the Spirit, he would know his true course.
I am not sure I convinced him.
Maybe Sam Bradford can help.
B is off with some friends right now. I have taken the text of Bradford’s interview, copied it 20 times and put it all through his back pack.
To be continued. . .

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Team Ran From the Tunnel For the Last Time

Friday Night Lights- Week 7
Last Thursday, B was told by the doctor to wait at least two weeks before coming back in. He had much progression to do before even being considered to be cleared to play. Sunday, he was reminded to be mindful of the Lord’s will for him. We all felt very optimistic. Tuesday, he came home beaming-“I was able to throw really good at practice today. Not 30 yards, but a strong spiral! I also did a push-up without pain.” He asked me to go ahead and get him scheduled to see the doctor after all. Wednesday, he overheard some coaches talking about the game plan, and assumed B would be cleared to play. They were concerned he had missed so many practices with actually being on the field; they approached him and thoroughly quizzed him on coverage. He knew all the answers. Later that day in practice, he said he ran some of his best routes yet, and made some great one-handed catches. Things seemed to be lining up for a great finale for his home town field under Friday night lights.
Thursday morning we drove to the doctor. He needed to quickly return to school following his appointment as to not miss a math test, so he and I drove separately. The doctor told him he was making progress likened to a tortoise. He told him he wasn’t even cleared to play basketball, and likely wouldn’t get football clearance within the next year. B asked him if there were any exercises or stretches he could do to hurry the process of healing. The doctor told him “No, only time will heal this.” We left the doctor’s with few words. He drove away, saying just a “See ya.” I felt sad for him. I called H and told him I was a little worried. I’d have liked to have taken him to breakfast as has been our routine on Thursdays after his appointments, but he didn’t have time.
An hour later he was struck with the flu. He toughed it out at school, and crashed after practice and the spaghetti feed. Friday, he dragged himself to school long enough to talk to his coach and get permission to participate in senior night activities even if he went home sick. He came home and crashed on the couch. I gave him the best meds our cupboard had to offer, shut the blinds, and tucked him in on the couch. From time to time I would come in and check on him. At one point, I thought he must be awake as his “moans” were significant. I sat at the end of the couch for a moment to check to see if he had a fever. If so, it was mild, but I chose to linger for a moment, I watched him sleep and began to think about next year. This time next year, he will be at college. He would like to be playing football, but time will tell. If he gets sick, he will be alone. He will need to learn to take care of himself, get the rest he needs, and slow down, when his body indicates such. I noticed how his look hasn’t changed much since he was a baby, especially when he slept. I tried to take it all in, and then slip away without disturbing him.
A couple of batches of laundry later, he awoke. He said he saw the light peeking between the blinds. He thought it was Saturday morning. He wondered if his team had won their game. I informed him it was still Friday. I told him if he wanted to go to the game, he needed to leave now. He got dressed and left.
Later, we too arrived at the stadium and parked. As I stepped out of my car, the band was playing the school’s fight song. I smiled as I walked toward the stadium, seeing the busying of teams, fans, and staff. I let myself get momentarily lost in the glow of the lights, with the flag off to the side. I took a deep breath, and hurried to see the team as they finished warming up. B had asked and received special permission to wear his pads and full uniform for senior night pre-game pictures. He looked great,-tall and strong. We lined up, took our turn, being introduced to the crowd, and posed for our picture. He then went straight into the locker room to rejoin the underclassmen.
Moments later the team ran from the tunnel for the last time. Again, he trailed behind as he had left his pads and all but his jersey in the locker room. Again, he stood next to his quarterback during the National Anthem.
I wore ‘my’ jersey (his away jersey) with pride even though #21 never left the sidelines. Our team looked sharp from time to time, but trailed 21-14 at the final horn. I positioned myself to see him exit the field through the tunnel one last time. He looked up, his eyes looked sad. Mine filled with tears as I quickly filed down the stadium steps.
He said very little after he returned home. He took more meds, ate a tiny bit, and settled in on the couch. I asked him how he thought his season would end. He shrugged, and closed his eyes.
To be continued…

Friday, October 23, 2009

In A Different Way Than Those Measured By Statistics

2009 Friday Night Lights- Week 6
Two weeks ago Friday afternoon I picked up the proofs for B’s senior pictures from the photographer. We had met at the school where he had been substituting. As I walked back to my car, I couldn’t contain my smile. We were a few hours away from leaving for “Friday Night Lights”. As I neared my vehicle, I recognized the truck adjacent to mine. It belonged to the head football coach. I said a quick hello, as I noticed he was waiting for his daughter. We exchanged cordial “how are yous?” I couldn’t minimize the skip in my step or the energy in my voice. “Just picked up B’s senior pictures.” I said. “Your jersey looks good on him!” (Referring to the pictures where he was wearing his #21 jersey.)
“It’s good you’re enjoying this time.” He responded with a grin. He then sombered his tone and said- “It’s fleeting.”
Several hours later, B injured his shoulder on the first of several blunt hits over that game and the next.
That was several weeks ago, the season is nearly over. Truly this time is fleeting, as are opportunities.
I have thought several times about the saying “Everything happens for a reason.” I don’t agree. But I do believe you can find reason in everything.
On the way home from the doctor this week, I asked B his thoughts regarding his injury. He said he thought it would eventually heal completely, but for now, he said he was learning a lot, and gaining the respect of his teammates and coaches in a different way than those measured by statistics. He felt that this was all part of the process of what he needed to learn and experience from football this year. He talked about how much he has grown in confidence taking on a leadership role in practice. Twice his fellow teammates have told their position coach that he wasn’t needed because C-- was taking over. It was favored well. Thursday, B commented on how sometimes when he is standing there on the sidelines of practice teammates will come over and start asking advice about girls, family, etc. He laughs as he wonders how he became viewed as the expert.
Last night, under clear cold skies, he ran onto the field following his teammates. He conservatively joined the huddle after the last kid who piled on had regained his feet. He stood next to his quarterback during the National Anthem. He high- fived teammates just before the kickoff. Then, just before our first offensive series, he sprinted out onto the field, to place the game ball at the line of scrimmage. There was notable pleasure in the opportunity. Our team secured another victory, albeit against what is joked about as being the JV team of the league. The final two weeks of the regular season are against top ranked teams.
This morning B said- I’m ready for “this part” to be over, - referring to his injury. I think he found reason to learn and grow, but is praying for a speed up in his recovery.
I pray too, but in the meantime, I try to appreciate these fleeting moments.To be continued. . .

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Felt Bad That I Couldn't Be His Hero

2009 Friday Night Lights—Week 5

Last night marked the game of the inner city rivalry. It’s never much of a competition. After all, our school is much larger. Nevertheless, for the fun of it, they call it a rivalry. With our record of 1-3, it looked to be a better competition than usual. In fact this game was picked by the local paper to be the upset of the season. There was some hype: the pep band led a parade of the team followed by the mass of students into the stadium. I looked for B. He was easy to spot- only two kids are injured and thus just wearing their jersey with street clothes. He was the one with a high and tight haircut and black sweats. (The kid hasn’t worn jeans since he was 3.) He stood next to the coaches during the warm up sprints, and then was very busy on the sidelines managing the defensive play clip board, and always holding a football with his other hand. He looked somewhat content with the course before him.
I sat in the stands watching him walk out to take his usual spot next to his quarterback lined up for the Nation Anthem. As my eyes fixated in the lights by the flag, my thoughts turned to an experience I had when I was 5 years old. It was just a few weeks before Kindergarten when my dad told us the empty house next had sold and we would be getting new neighbors. To my sheer delight he told us that they had 2 daughters, one of which was my age. My new neighbor Jenea quickly became my best friend. Her dad was the new principal at the high school which was adjacent to the elementary school we would soon attend. As Jenea and I readied for Kindergarten our mothers wanted us to have no doubts in the course we were to walk to and from school. They walked it with us many times, making sure we knew the way. Several weeks into Kindergarten, the library was introduced to us. Jenea and I quickly found a book to borrow and take home. The librarian reminded us to take special care of these books and return them next week in exchange for another. We agreed. The next week, Jenea and I met out in front of our homes on the sidewalk. Jenea was so excited to tell me that her dad told her of another way we could go to school. I tucked my book beneath one arm and clasped my hand in my friend’s as we skipped down the sidewalk on our NEW way to school. At one point conflict arose as the sidewalk’s concrete was broken. It was marked off and we could not pass. We noted our options and justified that since no cars were coming and it would be a short walk into the street, it was okay. As I stepped off the curb, I tripped. Immediate fear overtook me. My fall caused me to drop my library book which fell into the water run-off grate beneath the street. I cried. I cried for my disobedience in going the wrong way to school, walking in the street, and failing to take good care of my library book. Jenea insisted we should continue on to school and that her dad would take care of everything. I didn’t listen. Instead, I broke another rule. I turned around the other direction and ran home as fast as I could sobbing the entire way. Unexpectedly my dad was still home. I poured my regretful heart out to him. I recounted the tragedy as it had unfolded. My dad made a phone call, then took my small hand securely within his. I did not understand what we were going to do, but I knew I could trust him and did so by following him. A man from the city met us there. He removed the large bolts and the grate. My dad borrowed his ladder and retrieved my library book. Then without a word but of gratitude to the city worker, he walked with me to school.
My dad was my hero that day. He made all the fear and sadness go away.
As the team took the field, I felt sad for B, that he couldn’t be out there with him- that he couldn’t finally get to play a position he had worked so hard to be good at. I felt bad that I couldn’t be his hero and make all the hard parts about this go away. Then I thought about how this trial is one more part of the refiner’s fire that my son has the opportunity to work through. I thought about how much stronger he could be if he chooses to remain faithful during this adversity.
I am okay with not being able to rescue him. After all, he is no longer five. I pray the Lord will be generous in compensating him, and that we can all be patient with the Lord’s time schedule and His perfect wisdom.
Our team won, 24-14. At the end the students encircled the team on the field and they all sang the fight song with much pride and spirit. Hopefully, he will remember this someday—all of it. . .
To be continued. . .

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Said A Silent Prayer Begging For A Happy Ending

2009 Friday Night Lights- Week 4
B has been an absolute delightful child lately. We have talked about how you have to do your part on the field as well as off the field as a son of God and a respectful family member in order for the Lord to work miracles through you. I know he is hoping for the opportunity to represent the Lord in miracle form.-- (Who wouldn’t?) I am seeing him try very hard to do his “part”.
Tonight is Homecoming- bringing with it- a magical anticipation. After all, there are princesses in the crowd. Our competition this evening brags itself as the number one offense/team in the league. This may account for all of the juggling on defense in practice this week, as well as the coach’s frustration of B’s shoulder injury (an apparent stinger from last week’s game).
I arrived at the stadium a half an hour early to claim seats for the friends and family we were expecting. I laid out my blankets, jackets and stadium cushion to claim some space. Then I heard “Mrs. C! Mrs. C!” It was an assistant coach calling me from just outside the tunnel where the team had just retreated to after their warm up. He told me B had reinjured his shoulder in warm-ups, but had clearance to play. He was in pain, and no staff is authorized to give him meds, only a parent. So it was a call for some Advil. Refilling my travel tube had been on my list of things to do, but never made it to the top. I scanned the sparse crowd for someone I knew… nothing, or rather no one. I sprinted up the hill toward my car, hoping to find someone I knew along the way. I was rescued by a vice-principal at our school-who has always looked out for us. I sprinted back down, gave the Advil to the trainer, and sat in my seat. I was still alone at this point. H was picking up an elderly gentleman from our church who wanted to come to the game. No one else had arrived. My eyes filled with tears. Other people’s children were supposed to get hurt—not mine!
I said a silent prayer as I watched him line up with his team during the National Anthem, begging for a happy ending. Early in the second quarter, he received a pass well, and then the QB looked for him again on the next play. That pass was almost intercepted. The next play, we attempted a run and while blocking, the shoulder gave again. Our team shuffled into the locker room at half time down 14 to nothing.
We endured the half-time band show which is almost as bad as our defense. --I can say that tonight because B didn’t play! Then the princesses paraded around until we were put out of our misery by the team sprinting through the tunnel back out onto the field. I watched number by number come out, ready to cheer on #21. I was utterly devastated as he walked out with his pads off, alongside the other injured players, a big bag of ice strapped to his shoulder.
I sat emotionless in my seat the remainder of the half.
After the game, I met with the trainer, team doctor, and physical therapist. All agree they think and hope it is probably just a stinger, but since it’s the second one in a week, B now has to have x-rays and an MRI prior to being cleared to continue to play. I felt so bad that this was happening to him his senior year. The offense is weak. The safety coach is psycho, and now he is hurt. Really?!!?
I waited for him to emerge from the locker room, making sure he was okay to drive. He was almost the last one out, he looked bummed. As I saw him walking toward me, I noticed his hands were full. In one hand he held his car keys and copies of the previous games (a birthday present for Grandpa—shhh. Don’t tell) In the other hand, he clutched his scriptures. He didn’t explain why he had them, and I didn’t ask. But I’m beginning to think the happy ending I prayed for may not be measured in touchdown passes. . .
To be continued. . .

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mom's Eyes Are Seeing Lifetime Friendships Being Made

2009 Friday Night Lights- Week 3:
This week we travel to a city an hour away. It is their Homecoming night. Therefore we tolerate the accompanying gala. Within minutes of the sun setting I am once again reminded of how sad I am that I have lost my football blanket.
Our team looks a little better this week, mostly because we are keeping mistakes to a minimum. Our QB still seems more comfortable with a hand off versus a pass as there were only four pass completions on the night. That’s a tough night to be wide receiver #21 as none were completed his direction. Play after play, I realized this may not be a season with exciting plays, and awesome catches. There has been a little disappointment in that assumption, but it allows for other thoughts. As I sat next to H (my husband) in the second half, we exchanged knowingly glances. B was not having a banner day. He had actually been slow on some tackles (Yes, he’s playing defense again), and misread his kickoff opportunity. I said to him “I just think it’s neat he gets to be a part of this whole thing.” He agreed.
Then I began to notice some of the “other” parts of the game--
It’s the little things like knuckles to a teammate, helmet slaps coming off of the field, celebrating with the kid who took your spot, and then my three favorite from last night:
B asked the backup quarterback to warm him up- as in get him some passes to mechanically warm up the catching of the pass. It was cool to see the intensity, and then the thank you ‘handshake’ from B to him-back-up QB.
Late in the fourth B’s teammate and fellow safety got an interception. B who was on the sidelines was the chest bump recipient in celebration. Jason came running over to find him.
And then at the end of the game, to a crowd of only a few, the Fight Song was sung loudly by a bunch of boys who really can’t sing, but relished in the joy of their first win!
Play for play, B struggled, but early in the fourth quarter returned a kickoff to the 45 yard line for a reported gain of 37 yards to set his team up for the winning score.
At 2am, I sprung out of bed as the old 4-Runner made its way down the driveway. We chatted for just a few minutes. He was already very sore and somewhat frustrated at his mistakes. I encouraged him to own them, and then learn from them. He joked about how Madden hasn’t quite taught him everything. It’s impossible to know how this season will end- whether we will even make the playoffs. What I do know, is that there is a lot more happening on and off the field than the common eye can see. Mom’s eyes are seeing lifetime friendships being made- and a boy well on his way to becoming a man…
To be continued. . .

Monday, October 19, 2009

I've Done It A Thousand Times On Madden

2009 Friday Night Lights - Week 2:
My arrival at the stadium was 2 and a half hours before kickoff. I regrettably had volunteered to help with the kickoff BBQ which was a bust. I think they forgot to advertise. As I arrived in the parking lot, B was already there and dressed. He appeared to be retrieving something from his rig. I parked and then snuck up on him only to see him reading his Book of Mormon. My shock was hopefully not noted. I gave him a soft knuckle to the arm and told him “way to put your trust in the Lord” - then walked away- truly grateful for what I had seen. Two hours later he came streaming out of the tunnel with his teammates for his first home game of his senior year. They do this huddle thing where the last few guys pile on top of the helmets. My kid was a piler –on. I think it’s stupid. Surely someone is going to get hurt. Strangely- nobody cares what I thinkJ B had a large cheering section: eighteen friends immediately around us and around eight family members, not including us.
Early in the game, the star running back (having established himself as that last week) had a great run for a 71 yard gain. A teammate blocked in the back, making it only 21 yards. The RB gets hurt, and then we begin a series of fumbles- literally 8 eight of them. B had some nice catches. He didn’t play any defense. They eliminated back field players from playing both ways. I’m not gonna lie to you. This mom believes the idea was unsuccessful. (How long before the coaches figure it out?) The most interesting, perhaps notable highlight for B was deep in the 4th quarter he was told to line up to return the kickoff. In the nine years he has played football, he has never done that before. The crowd around me chattered as to whether he must be completely nervous. My heart raced for him. The ball was kicked to him. I swear the thump as it hit his chest was audible even to me in the stands, but with a firm hand grasp keeping it tight he advanced up the field to the 35 yard line for a gain of about 25. Not a bad effort. He actually looked strong as he powered up and two guys brought him down.
The stands were almost empty by the time we watched them walk off of the field into the locker room. We had been beaten soundly by the worst team in the league. (What does that make us?) You might wonder with a losing team if the stands will be empty from now on? Or will this team and coaching staff unite and turn this thing around? I went home and found the best frozen chicken pasta meal my freezer had to offer. B ate it, and over a big bowl of cantaloupe we chatted. This is fun as he shared little insights that you wonder about from the perch in the crowd. His mood wasn’t too sullen as he actually did well himself. Sadly he had limited opportunities for receiving. We asked him about receiving a kick off for the first time. He curtly said- “it was easy- I’ve done it a thousand times on Madden. I knew how to find the holes!” We all had a good chuckle, turned to go to bed with a final accolade his direction, and a firm reminder that he had the ACT today and needed to go to bed.
So then, was their success? I say yes- perhaps in ways we won’t even begin to see for a bit. I don’t think we have seen B play his best football yet!
To be continued. . .

Sunday, October 18, 2009

We'll Move Into Week 2 With Few Accolades

2009 Friday Night Lights -Week 1:
This morning I feel emotionless. I have no passion for my game summary, yet I know you are expecting it. Unfortunately it is just a shell of a game review. Perhaps in weeks to come I may reflect and piece together a greater understanding of the emotions-or lack thereof.
B had already been told he was a starter both ways. I could focus on how that is rare in a 4A school (largest class in the state) for a kid to do that, but the other team had even more players being “amazing” in that way. Nevertheless, B was excited, not overly nervous. Pre-game meal was pb & j. He left for the stadium to catch the bus at 4pm. We next saw him on the field just after 7pm warming up- many hopes, expectations, and assumptions for all of us.
The entire first half was a bust. Nothing was going the right way. B finally had a pass thrown his direction late in the second quarter. In his words, “I knew I had it and was looking for the holes to get it up field”. Sadly, he never ‘had it.’ That was a bummer for him, but team wide, not even notable because nothing was going right.
The team gaited off to the locker room at the half, down 21-0.
The second half, we turned things around- the running game that will no doubt hit history books. (For those of you who don’t understand football well, a dominant running game is bad news for a wide receiverJ) One kid had 291 yards on the game. This boy- (someone else’s childJ) scored three touchdowns. About every 10-12 plays our QB would attempt a pass. We only had 22 yards on the game. Half way into the fourth quarter B had a nice tough catch and was hit hard. His coaches were concerned he was shaken up a little too much on the play, and he saw limited time after that. We had tried to go for the win following the third TD, missed the conversion and the score ended with a one point deficit on our part.
B played solid- obviously did a lot of blocking. Defensively- fine, nothing for the history books. A friend who arrived at the half had been listening to the radio broadcast said the announcer referred to him as the team’s best defensive back. So, we’ll move into week two with few accolades and yet another statistical error by the local newspaper. His one catch had been omitted from the box scores. I didn’t even pick up the phone to call the Herald this morning. I must be maturing!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Many Like Him Would Have Quit Long Before

This post is the first one for this season. It was written 9.5 hours prior to kickoff of B's senior football season.

Friday Night Lights 2009 Season Preview:

Seemingly, many like him would have quit long before he even got to this point. B has loved to play sports since he was little- very little. Basketball was played with a cheap cardboard hoop as soon as he could stand. Once he was able to run- toddler style, he would run from one end of our 600 square foot apartment to the next saying in a long drawn out voice—SHHHAAAWWWNNNNN KKKKEEEEMMMMPPP….. And then slam the ball through the hoop. His dad petitioned the YMCA when he was three, telling the director—“I know he’s short for 3 years old, but I guarantee you he can out play all of the 4 years old.” He was permitted on the basketball team. He began playing football at age 4. His competition (brother) was 2. They both received oversized football uniforms for Christmas. B- the dolphins, Y –the 49ers. B ate Milky Way candy bars -note the colors, Y ate Twix. (You see how his mind worked!) Most of the early football competitions were played in the living room. Y cried often. B learned he had to let his brother enjoy some time on the top of the tackle if he was to keep him interested in continuing the “game”. As spring came, the games were moved to the backyard. B would enlist as many neighborhood kids as he could find, who were 4 to play with him. (He usually had to settle for the neighbors who were 2 and 3).
Many springs and seasons have passed since then. Most of those seasons finished with very little playing time in football, basketball, or baseball. He was short—and shy, apparently not the best combination for star athletes in our town. Through the years, basketball has always been his favorite sport. Last spring, after yet another disappointing basketball season, he amped up his training for speed, agility, strength and quickness. He loved the work. He loved the challenge.
Spring football brought with it an excitement in a sport he had always considered his second favorite. I could hear the energy in his voice and see the excitement in his eyes after he returned home from practice. He would restlessly bop around the house. At my plea to settle down a bit, he replied “I just want to go back to practice.” He poured himself into his workouts all summer. Flexing became a past time that he ironically could do while eating dinner, playing cards, or reading scriptures. The kid was happy. As a mom, I delighted in seeing him so content. Tonight he begins his senior football season. He goes in as a no name, flying way beneath anyone’s radar. Friday Night Lights kicks off in 9.5 hours. I wonder what the story will be….

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Crowd Was Going Crazy Screaming About #21

2008 Friday Night Lights – Week 10

In many ways the season ended the way it began, in many others; it was very different. Playoffs time in high school football is high energy- from the coaching staff to the players to the fans. Most of the team sported mohawks. B and a few others opted for a tight crew cut. They watched tape during lunch, team meals, and countless motivational speeches by the coach. Our competition was a bit unknown: a team in a different league in a distant city.
We arrived early enough to claim our usual seats and for me to make the long walk to the popcorn stand. Coming off of last week where B never left the sidelines, I wasn't sure what to expect. He was convinced he would be playing more this week. The loser out fate made this night different than the others. For the seniors, it would be the last time they hit the field, the last time for most of them to play the game.
B told us to watch for him on the first offensive series. We held them on our first defensive series. They kicked off; starter stud Rowe returned it for a touchdown- 80 yards. Before the offensive team hit the field, their job was done. The next offensive series, we did see #21 run onto the field for a few quick plays. We scored again, missing the extra point, we were up 13-0 by the end of the 1st quarter. Things were looking good. B continued to play several plays of each offensive series. Mostly he ran a decoy route. He looked sharp, and was wide open. A friend came over during half time to tell me the crowd in her area was going crazy screaming about #21 being wide open. I had to laugh. "I know. I know." "I see that."
Our opponent found it's offense in the 2nd half. We misplaced our defense, and were stale offensively. We were down 13-28. B was still running routes on a lot of plays. Out of nowhere a pass went his direction. He caught it, and just as quickly he was taken down. Good enough for a first down. The next play, a pass across the middle was caught by his teammate; a clutch block by B resulted in a touchdown. This was pretty exciting for B's cheer section. Unfortunately the 4th quarter was filled with missed opportunities. B never saw a pass again. The game ended. The season ended. I was bummed.
Although B had a great end to his junior year, I was sad to see it be gone. For him, pushups followed the post-game meal at home, and he was up at 6:30am Saturday morning to play basketball. The end of football season is defined by B as simply the beginning of basketball season.
Go Team!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I Seemed To Take Very Little Delight In It

2008 Friday Night Lights – Week 9

It's playoffs! (Technically- Districts) They don't have a district tournament here anymore, just enough games to decide seeding at Regionals. No build-up this week, just some facts. We were undefeated in league play. Last night we won, meaning we advance to regionals next weekend. On a note of my personal disappointment, we are playing at home. We already had hotel reservations in the city a few hours away, assuming we would be there. So now next weekend will not be unlike the previous nine. Games mixed with phone demands, cleaning, cooking, etc. Regular life will continue, we simply have a Friday Night game- again. Really not all that bad, I was just really looking forward to someone else doing the dishes and cooking next weekend.
Nevertheless, last night, prior to the game, we quickly supported the ward's trunk-or-treat effort. We arrived at the game only six minutes before game time, the crowd was sparse. It seems as though Halloween priorities are not a football game. Half-way through the 2nd quarter, the cool wind broke down into the stadium, It became borderline foggy. Cool moist autumn air. This week, I seemed to take very little delight in it. B told us everyone he'd been playing for was healthy. It was playoff time, the competition more challenging. He knew he would play less. And he did. H's brother came at half time joining him and his dad in critical football chatter. The score was 14-0, we were winning. If our offense and defense played a mirrored 2nd half to the first, B should get some time in. Unfortunately, the play was sloppy. The game looked tight, B never got in.
He came home cold. He said the coach kept telling him, "Be ready B." "Be ready." He was ready. Mentally he was ready, physically- ready. He came home with too much energy prepared for the field. He wrestled with his brother until his dad threatened to take away the XBOX. He wasn't really hungry, just munched on a little scotcheroo chunk. Nor was he too bummed out, rather ready to move on. H and I were done for the day--no extra energy for me at 10pm. As I turned to go to my room, B piped up "When's basketball season start?"
To be continued...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Froze For a Moment, Wanting To Pinch Myself

2008 Friday Night Lights- Week 8
It was Senior Night last night. As we listened to the names of the seniors and their "escorts" (typically parents), my daughter pointed out that this would be us next year. I froze for a moment wanting to pinch myself. This season is almost over, and there will only be one more season of high school football. For a brief moment I was saddened, but resolved myself to just enjoy the moment I was in. Our opponent was a team with tall athletic kids. They are known more for their amazing basketball team, than football, but still ranked in the top three teams of our division nonetheless.
We scored quickly on the first drive-- We seem to do that often- oh how I like it. They answered with a field goal, making it a seemingly fair fight. We noticed on one play one of our starter studs was motioning for a sub (B's job). Coach didn't notice- Bummer. The kid stayed it. In the second and third quarters, our scoring began to click and our defense held up well keeping the division's leading rusher not rushing much. B came in on token drives to rest one of our starting wide receivers. We wowed the stadium on one trick play with a double pass that was sure to make highlight reels. It looked cool. It also tore up the other team’s defense, leaving them sprawled and laying over the field. They looked beaten and somewhat foolish. At the end of the third, the game was scored at 27-3. Coach felt the win was secure. Thus, mid-way through the 4th quarter, our 2nd string took over. B ran routes and blocked, we rushed- same 'ol boring play. He was then able to play a series on defense- we haven't seen much of this. The other team’s leading rusher was given the ball. Unfortunately it was now their turn for the highlight reel. He left a string of defenders diving and missing him. B ran over as this was happening on the opposite side of the field from him. Then the rusher cut back towards B. I held my breath hoping B could adjust. He slipped on the wet grass, dove and missed him. Bummer!! A few series later another touchdown was scored against us.
B came home hungry and a bit frustrated. We chatted it out, reminded him he hasn't played much Varsity defense at all. I took the opportunity to coax him to think about what to do to improve himself. He still had homework to do and it was now 11:00pm. So much is expected from him from so many different forces. Our team now heads into playoffs. Time will tell how far we make it. B's role is realized. Now we wait and see whether playoffs will interfere with basketball tryouts taking place in just 3 1/2 weeks. Unfortunately, number 21 didn't end the regular season on a high note. The team did, and hopefully there will be some due recognition in his role in that.
To be continued...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Catch the Ball First, Wrap Up, Take 'Em Down Low

2008 Friday Night Lights – Week 7

Crisp Autumn air and a cool breeze swept over the stadium as I nestled in my stadium seat wearing my warm Columbia jacket and blanketed in hometown pride. We were playing an away game in a neighboring town, an easy 25 minute drive from home. The game night was an atypical Saturday and the freshman game preceded it. We caught the tail end of our freshmen being annihilated 50-7. Some friends noted they had seen Varsity players warming up during half-time and that B looked sharp. I nodded in agreement that he had had a good week.
Monday he played a few quarters of JV and clocked in two interceptions and a solid catch (1 for 1 on receiving). He came home Wednesday night after practice- proud. He had earned a "playmaker wristband" He said only the top four receivers get one, and the other three are all starters. Saturday afternoon he followed me around the laundry room with nervous energy. "You'll probably play tonight?" I asked. "I know I will, I can feel it." He replied, the words bursting forth. I chatted about the fundamentals: catch the ball first, wrap up, take 'em down low, and many others. His reply this time was a semi-sarcastic "Okay Mom."
I watched one of B's friends and teammate Jacob, such a nice boy, warm up. He's the kicker and pounded two 50 yard attempts in a row. (That's NFL good!) Sadly he is hardly used for anything more than an extra point. I intently searched for the tight end that was hurt last week, affording B some extra playing time. Was he suited, was he not? NOT! Sweet!! I quietly noted. The game began and I was paying attention to every position, who was where and what route was run. We scored quickly. In the 2nd quarter, our quarterback threw an interception deep in the back field putting the other team 15 yards from their end zone. One of our wide receiver/defensive back starters was in on the tackle. He ran off the field. His helmet was messed up. They tried to quickly fix it, but not quick enough and B was sent out to play on clutch defensive coverage. The ball went to the other side of the field (away from B) and was stopped short of scoring. B came out. He got kudos and forceful helmet hits (these are desirable) from his coaches. I think the translation is: “Thanks for not screwing up big time”. The rest of the game continued and from time to time B would be sent out on relief for a starter stud. Our team only plays about 16 kids consistently. (That's not very many for a winning 4A team). Although B is second string for wide receiver and defensive back he doesn't play much, and didn't, but did get field time in the last three quarters. As a team we struggled with snaps--again, from the center. The game was not played sharply, yet we secured another win. We are the 2008 Division Champs.
B came home hungry and we chatted over a vat of chicken noodle soup and saltines. He was surprised he didn't play more, thus taking advantage of his wristband.(Tee hee). But he was happy. Happy to be a part of a winning team, and happy to receive some recognition for solid play. Brownie-mania? The team was treated this week while they watched tape.
To be continued...

Monday, October 12, 2009

I Watched Every Second Of Every Play With a Goofy Grin On My Face

2008 Friday Night Lights – Week 6

A week ago Thursday I helped out with the spaghetti feed for the team. On parent night there were sign ups to help with an assortment of things, mostly selling programs and t-shirts. I looked over the list of help needed for the spaghetti feeds and deemed that my sorta thing. B said most weeks they had just had store bought stuff. But- I have the time and decided to make brownies (from a mix of course) and cookies. Bren didn't want any fancy brownies (Reeses, Turtle, M&M, or Oreo.), so I made them plain. Store bought frosting on top of brownie mix baked as package instructs. B didn't want any undue attention on him because of his mom's brownies. Fine!! Fine! Fine. I assured him- they will just be regular. --Well, a week ago Thursday, I made brownies and a few dozen cookies, packed them in an old Costco water bottle box and set them on the tables in the cafeteria. I left before the coaches or team arrived because they had plenty of help and my daughter had soccer practice.
Apparently this was the beginning of brownie mania. The head coach loved the brownies, hunted down the source and this past week in practice kept bugging B about hooking him up with some more brownies. This past Thursday before the feed in the locker room the head coach talked about B's mom's brownies and asked him if they were getting any that day. (They weren’t and the coach let B know he was a little disappointed.) B reports this is the most the coach has talked to him all season. Poor B- all he wanted was for his mom to bring in food that wouldn't cause a stir. Oops!!
Anyway- The report: It's week 6- Our team is 4-0 in league play. 4-1 overall, so we've gotten better, and were lucky enough to have played all of the easy teams first, hopefully establishing a little rhythm. Last night, we tried to get to the game early, but I'd misplaced my season pass so I had to talk my way in to the game for free which I successfully did. I had also ordered a team football blanket and had to go pick it up under the stadium which table happened to be located next to the popcorn stand- Why not? I thought. I returned to the 30 yard line with a warm blanket and warm popcorn. H was not there. I scanned the area and saw that he had found us new seats. The student section had been growing and encroaching on our view of the end zone the past few games so he opted for higher ground and over a little on the 25 yard line. Good enough for me. By this point in the season I knew the routine. Sit, half-way pay attention, visit with friends, watch the crazy students, and wait for us to be far enough ahead by the 4th quarter, that B gets in for a few minutes. H and I were both doing just that. And this week we were lucky enough to have some loyal friends sit right next to us. Shortly into the 2nd quarter I was watching the game and saw a non-starter number coming off the field. I began pounding H on the knee, unable to speak. The score was 6-0, but although winning, we were struggling with offense. "What!!!" H asked. I pointed and blundered out a fragment--it's B!! He was just coming off of the field, so we had missed him for the few plays he was in. This continued throughout the game. No passes were even attempted to him, but he was getting some real field time. This changed the game for me. I watched every second of every play and was thrilled each time 21 ran in and sat motionless with a goofy grin on my face while he played. Our team took control of the game and by the 4th quarter, we were winning well enough that 2nd string (B and company) was playing consistently. We heard the announcer call his name twice on tackles- that was cool. By the end, the stands had been emptying for a quarter's worth of play so there were few there when the team ran into the tunnel which happens to be by the 25 yard line. B was one of the last to exit the field; I stayed waving with my other son, Y, until I knew he'd seen us. "Good Job B" I said quiet enough that only I heard it.
As I swiftly moved toward the car- it was freezing, literally, I noticed I was humming the school's fight song. This sure was fun. So- I know what you're thinking. Was it the undue attention on the brownies that got B noticed, or was it stellar performance on the practice field? Neither. B thanked his teammate Cody (1st string WR) in the locker room for sitting out the game with a deep thigh bruise. "No problem B"- he said- "you looked good out there!!"
Brownie mania turned B-man mania- at least for me!
To be continued...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

We Are His Biggest Fans- On the Field Or On the Sideline

2008 Friday Night Lights – Week 5

This week held some "firsts". First, before the first first, here's B's stats- personal stats. He's 16 years old, is 5'11" tall and weighs 165+ pounds. Not bad for a junior. Since last year, he has grown one inch and gained 25 pounds. I can see that trend continuing. His positions: Corner on defense and Wide Receiver on offense.
Let's get to the real firsts. First game against a cross-town rival. Stands were packed despite the second first which was rain. We usually get a few short showers a year. Last night, we were soaked form kickoff to the shout song finale. The game went okay. The band was miserable- still. I sat nearly motionless under my new Columbia RAINPROOF outerwear. I have laryngitis so I spoke to no one. From time to time I would become frustrated with the girls behind me whose umbrella kept dripping on me, but all in all, I was lost in my thoughts. I kept an eye on #21 on the sidelines. I noted who he spoke to, where he wandered, and whether he seemed to pay much attention to the game. I wondered how he was doing--really doing in life. Football has been frustrating for him this year –that, I know. He's also been laden with some friends who haven't been the most loyal. His grades are somewhat below where they've been the past two years. And yet as I watch him on the side lines, he seems okay, content. He stands next to and chats with kids like him- juniors stuck in the Varsity/JV jaws. I guess they understand each other. The game has its share of frustrations; we didn't convert on some easy opportunities to score, and missed some easy defensive plays, making it close down to the wire. Therein is the final first- Bren didn't get in the game. But it was okay. We had some friends and family willing to sit in the rain for three hours "just in case". These were the same friends who at the first game of the season stayed long enough to witness the final minute catch. Football may be rough so far, but I can see from the 30 yard line, life is okay anyway. New friendships are being formed on the grid iron, the grades will find their way higher, and we'll figure the rest out together; as a family. We are his biggest fans, on the field, or on the sideline. We are his most loyal relations- now and forever. And for the team: another win, 21 to 20.
To be continued...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I Get the- "You're A Psycho Mom" -Look

2008 Friday Night Lights- Week 4

Tonight we take a road trip about an hour and a half away. However, the town is home to my kids' favorite food stop: burgers as big as your face, fries and milkshakes. I thought about packing a sandwich, but decided to conform to family fun. I choked down a half of a hamburger- truly not my favorite food, salted and packed in a few fries and wandered over to a table in the restaurant where I saw a lady that looked familiar. She was wearing a sweatshirt with our school’s logo, giving away her home town. I introduced myself, we chatted briefly, and left with a "See you there." I decided it was time I get to know some of the parents, be a little more friendly, pretend to care--(just kidding, I think).
We arrived at the game early- I like it that way. We leave from home early because we aren't sure where these stadiums are in distant towns, but I like truly enjoy watching our team warm up. As per the stadium layout, we purchase tickets and then need to walk around the track to our side of the stands. This is cool because we get pretty close to the players who are warming up. I immediately wave at B. It was just a little two finger wave to let him know I'm excited to see him. Funny thing though- no shout-out back. No "Hi Mom- I love you". Nothing. (Tee hee) We walk around the end of the track and the scout defense formation B is now playing has him about 10 yards away. Now I actually get to say hello. I do so in stealth mode so his teammates don't notice and therefore he is not embarrassed.
I know I already love this stadium. It shares a name as my high school, but no resemblance. It is fairly large, the field is manicured nicely, and the smell: Kettle Corn!! (That lightly sweet and salty popcorn). Since the family is still stuffed, I negotiate a "top of the fourth popcorn break". Agreed.
Our team scores on the opening drive. All in all, despite the poor refereeing, we look good --finally. Much better than in weeks past, and against a descent team. Despite the score of 21 to 7, I find myself chilling in the stands- literally. The nighttime air is crisp. My popcorn devoured, and I'm waiting to see #21. With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, we score again. Now I'm thinking they'll put second string in. The other team already has. Not us. Our first string defense puts them away in three downs and a punt. Then we're out with first team offense except for the running back.
Just before the play snaps, I hear the coach call out to B. He was only a few inches away- smart kid. As the play on the field lines up, we're on the 40 yard line, with the first string QB still in. I get all excited thinking maybe they are going to call a pass play for B who will go in on the next play. The coach has him on the sideline and is telling him what play to take to the huddle. Meanwhile, the ball snaps, it’s a hand-off to the second string running back. He advances the ball well, and just before a tackle, he sees a hole. He's getting close to the goal line. I am thinking "No! No!" "Get him, Get Him!" I quietly scream. (Okay if you're following this. Yes--I am cheering for the other team at this point. If they don't stop this run, and we score, B doesn't get in.) My cheering was not helpful. My husband (H) is clapping with the rest of the crowd as we score and I am like "Dangit!"
I get the 'you're a psycho mom' look from H. Kick receive team goes out on the field, B gets in on a quick defensive series. Nothing comes to his side, and the game's over. Dang- this tugs on my heart strings. I worry this isn't fun for him. We drive home, well--H drives, I sleep. We get home and call B on his cell phone. H talks to him. He said B sounds in good spirits and sounds like he is having a lot of fun. The team bus is still at the burger joint: eating burgers as big as your face, salty fries and for B- a large strawberry milkshake. So, maybe there's plenty of fun with the team, even if you don't play much.
To be continued...

Friday, October 9, 2009

I Am Supposed To Be Over Zealous--I'm the Mom!

2008 Friday Night Lights – Week 3

The energy in the air this week has been different. It's Homecoming Week 2008. There has been finding a girl, a tux, a corsage, a group for the date, a haircut, etc. The football game has definitely taken a back seat in the mind of No. 21. Nevertheless the 7:30pm kickoff happened, ready or not. It didn't take too long to figure out why we were playing West Valley on Homecoming Night. Apparently coaches and athletic directors know that the football players are distracted so organized the schedule to play the worst team in the division.
The stands were packed. Parents of band members, cheerleaders and Homecoming gala united at the stadium to respectively support their kids. The group next to us was 8 strong to watch a cheerleader. The Mom beamed and chanted along to each cheer. I was very amused watching her. At half-time the score was 35-7. The marching band entered the field on the drum's cadence. I prepared myself for a 'move your feet to the beat' type of performance. Oops! At least that's what the band director should have been thinking. They were terrible- so much so, it was kinda funny-so much worse than mine in high school-. They weakly squeaked out two numbers. Everyone was glad when they were done, as was evident by the weak applause. Then the princesses were recognized. My mind reflected to my own hideous Homecoming dress from 1983. There is much regret in that selection. I have a feeling a couple of these girls will have the same grimace as they see pics of themselves in 20 years. (Tee Hee!) This school has no guys as escorts or Homecoming Princes. It's just a princess and queen fiasco. I didn't know any of the girls selected. Therefore, I was the first one on my feet clapping as the team ran from the tunnel back onto the field. I wished I knew how to whistle loudly. That would've come in handy.
We were expecting B would see some playing time but not sure how much. I was disappointed to see the starters take the field on D after the kick. In the next few minutes we scored a couple more touchdowns. Then the number we'd been waiting for sprinted onto the field.
"There he is!" I shouted with glee!
"I know. I know" my husband WHISPERED back. (HaHa)
I am supposed to over zealous- right--I'm the Mom! He did great, I guess. He played the rest of the 3rd quarter and all of the 4th quarter on both sides of the ball- offense and defense. He was one of the two guys who never left the field between. Bummer though, not one defensive play came his direction and he went on the field with the 2nd string QB who is not very comfortable throwing the ball. His one attempt was to B so we could hear the loud speaker announce. "Pass intended for B-- ---incomplete". Is that cool?--Nah! Not really. So he played a ton, but no action really.
I hobbled to the car after the game was over. (I hobbled- because I dropped a Pampered Chef 11x17 jelly roll pan on my foot. It resulted in some ligament damage.--30-60 days to heal.) We beat B home, barely. I was ready with food choices this time: BBQ Beef Brisket sandwich or pound cake with chocolate frosting. He selected the pound cake and a Gatorade. He told us he actually caught the pass that was called incomplete, and swears it never touched the ground, but "the ref's an idiot". He shared a few more less interesting insights from the sidelines as he finished his second piece of cake. My foot was throbbing, my pain meds making me cloudy, so I headed off to bed.
I turned as I left the kitchen with a "Great job tonight- B"
"Thanks" was muttered between final Gatorade swigs.
To be honest, I felt a little complacent.
To be continued...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Concession Stand Won My Appeal

The Summary following week 2 of 2008 Friday Night Lights :

Friday morning's sunrise was beautiful. As my am schedule plays out, I usually have just finished getting breakfast (quiche and pancakes) on the table and lunch in the paper sacks when I notice the colors streaming in through the blinds. If I'm quick on my feet,--which i still am-- (Tee Hee) then I can open up the four blinds and take in the colorful landscape. My mom jobs for the first two kids at this point are done. As I saw them off, it would be a long day before I saw B (my #21) again. Tonight's ball game was sending us on the big road trip for the season: a beautiful community 2 1/2 hours away. Our departure time was 4:30pm, we only kinda knew where we were going, so we added a buffer. I was delighted we did. As we arrived, the school had a small stadium, reminding me of my own in high school. My middle son, (I'll call him Y) a freshman in high school, and I put down our stadium seats, my jacket and blanket and headed off to see what the concession stand might offer. Last week I had felt a twinge of a nervous tummy- food was undesirable. This week I was regretting not having packed some sandwiches. Y got a hotdog. I'm too old to eat those now, so I settled on some popcorn. The serving was stingy in size, but hot and salty, so the concession stand won my appeal.
As we watch the team warm up, it was still light outside. The sky had some faint pinkish colors, but mountains surround this community and thus robbed us of a sunset. The breeze picked up a little as I munched to the half-way point of my popcorn bag. I was glad I had worn a hairstyle suitable for a convertible. Important thoughts such as this, moths flying in a spazzy flight pattern, and the challenge of identifying the families sitting around us consumed the first half of the game. Gone was my intensity of trying to watch for B or figuring out the mistakes from the offensive or defensive coordinators, boredom had truly settled in. Our team looked weak. Awful at times.
Our defense and offense finally shook loose in the second half. We had a 35-24 lead with 2:07 to go in the fourth quarter. I scanned the huddle looking for #21 as I had noticed some shifting going on. Sure enough, B comes out of the huddle taking his place on the line of scrimmage. The first play was a run of sorts. Next play-balls snaps- flag- delay of game. Ball snaps again, QB kneels down- the game was over. My husband and I gave each other the yikes look (for B's benefit) and left the stadium.
I had a hard time staying awake on the way home yet feeling obligated so that my driver/husband too would stay awake and we would make it home. We had left our daughter (J) at Gma's, so we picked her up and made it to our house around 12:30am. As I gathered my "stuff" from the front seat, I thought 8 hours - wow - that was a chunk of time. We knew it would be. We actually deliberated about whether or not to even go. But I thought -two years from now, watching our kid on Friday night won't even be an option, so with little additional thought we agreed to go. Everyone quickly transitioned and was in bed within minutes.
I opened the window in my room that faces the driveway so I could hear the old 4-Runner coming down. At 1:45am I sprung out of bed. I opened the door with a somber "Hey B."
"Hey" he said back. He was in motion toward his room as he said "That was a waste of time." In a mid-night fog, I replied- "It's only a waste of time if you don't learn something from the experience." "G'night B".
"Night Mom".
I went back to bed thinking "Hey-not bad advice advice for nearly 2am". I sure hope this Friday night gig gets more interesting. Despite it all, I noticed the sunrise colors streaming through my bedroom blinds at 6:30 this morning. My body still hurts from all of yesterday's inactivity. I couldn't sleep. So I thought I'd tell you. Tell you what, I'm still not sure!! To be continued...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

This first summary was written in 2008, the morning following my son's first Varsity football game:
2008 Friday Night Lights-Week 1
We sit on the bleachers at the 30 yard line. The students are at the 50 and have an amazingly strong showing, so the 30 gives us enough angle to see all 100 plus yards even with the students standing the whole time. So there I was settled in my seat with my media guide in hand, quickly trying to memorize the players' numbers of the kids who would play a lot. I already knew the number I'd be looking for: #21. He wanted #24 but lost fair and square to a teammate he had competed a year ago for it.
Soon, the team ran out of the tunnel and the student section erupted. They did a little something-something to pump themselves up on the field with a swaying chanting huddle of sorts. Then respectfully lined up, removed their helmets as a hush fell over the field. That was cool. Isn't this the stuff dreams are made of? I quickly reflected to football splendor in the living room, the backyard, and on Saturday morning at the park. Then I noted that I could not easily pick him out. He had grown. Standing at nearly 6 foot he was no longer the shortest kid on the sideline. In 7th grade he was- and therefore easy to pick out. I hoped he took a moment to relish the moment. Maybe even a moment to thank God right there on the sideline during the National Anthem for a mama who supported him and believed in him when no one else did!---(HaHa. Tee Hee)- I know- maybe he'll reflect on that stuff later in life--maybe when I die.
The kick off was a balmy 80 degrees. We had heads up that the coaching staff would limit his playing time on Varsity leaving him eligible for some JV quarters on Monday to gain a little more experience. Just after half time he positioned on the field for the punt team. It was a thrill to see him quickly move downfield. A lady sitting next to us even said he looked fast. The ball was kicked to his side, so as a mom, I held my breath in anticipation. His job: to contain the runner to the inside of the field. He was partially blocked yet successfully kept the runner in. A teammate made the first tackle; he piled on. I took a breath. We thought that would mark the beginning of his playing time. We waited, waited and waited, I even began to chat with a friend. Then just when all hope had been reconciled, he was put in on what would be that last offensive series. We were down 22-7. Victory was out of grasp. The box scores had nearly been tallied, most of the stands were emptying out. I got the attention of my faithful sister-in-law who had diligently sat there, not having left early like the rest of our friends and family. He lined up on the line of scrimmage. I could tell from his intensity he would be blocking for a running play. I was right. The next play, he seemed different. Before the snap he was in motion. Once again, I held my breath. I am a mom, there's little else I can do, yet I'm not sure how or why I do that. He ran a 7 yard slant route, caught the pass, and was taken down right away. Hooray! The few of us left in his cheering section cheered loud enough to let everyone around us know our kid had just barely gotten in the ballgame! (TeeHee) The announcer paused a bit obviously taking time to look up his name on the roster before announcing it. I laughed a little. We celebrated as much as you reasonably can with one pass completion. Perhaps a little more. The game ended seconds later and with renewed energy in my step I exited the stadium. I took one last look at the empty field after climbing the hill to the parking lot. Friday Night Lights- way cool.
We arrived home and anxiously awaited the sound of the old 4-Runner making its way down the driveway. I thought about making him food, but I didn't know if he'd be hungry. Or maybe I was tired and rationalized just waiting. It wasn't long before the dilapidated sound of the muffler could be heard. He came in and we chatted. He said all in all the game was really boring and his feet were tired from standing there the whole time. We laughed. A lot of people had left before his catch. So, the unheard of kid-- still remained unheard of. I assured him his name was on the radio for anyone who listened to the game and his name would be in the box scores in the paper the next morning. We chatted a little more about the evening.
My back was killing me from bleacher-itis (that's what I call it). So I went to bed with a Tylenol P.M. My husband woke up at 6:30am Saturday to go play basketball- yes he's still trying to recapture the glory days. I threw some shoes on and ran through the sprinklers across the lawn to go to the end of the 400 foot driveway to secure the newspaper. It was missing! At this point I regretted not having driven down the driveway so I could just go straight to the gas station to purchase extra copies.- no doubt you all would have wanted one. As I made my way back to the house, my husband was just leaving. He stopped to ask what I was doing as the behavior of walking down the driveway at 6:30 am was atypical. "No paper!" I said- "I've gotta go to Conoco."
He laughed. "I already got the paper- and-- his name and catch were omitted from the box scores."
"What!!!" I screamed in utter outrage.
He smirked at my raw mama bear anger. "Bummer." he said as he drove off.
I hied down the rest of the driveway tore into the front door to see the cruelty for myself. Sure enough- as if it never happened. I did what any sane mother would do. I grabbed my cell phone and called the paper to find out who was responsible for this outrage. Stange, I know, but no one answers the phone from the sports department at 6:30 on Saturday morning.
So I sat down to tell you- tell you what? I'm still not sure. To be continued.....under the next Friday Night Lights!