It’s no secret that I’m crazy about football. It’s such a courageous sport, regardless of what level you’re at. I’m especially nuts about small town, high school football. Our program is staffed by amazing coaches who believe that football is about molding men.
I often brag (yes, I admit it’s bragging) about my son, #33, who has been starting since 9th grade, and found his legs in 10th as a running back. He lives for football, and spends his off season in the weight room and on the track, improving his 100 m dash time.
Admittedly, he’s a hard act to follow.
Courage in my home is found in my youngest son, #62. He came to me three years ago and said, “I want to play football, but…I can’t compete with Pete. I’m just going to be in his shadow.”
I looked Noah in the eyes and I said… “Don’t be Pete. Be Noah. Be your awesome self. Go out for a different position and rock it.”
Something shifted in his eyes and right then, I saw the flickering of courage.
He went out for football. His coach put him at defensive end. The very first game, my husband and I saw him in the huddle, shaking his hand, as if he’d been hurt. He ran to the sidelines after the next play and we saw him sitting on the bench. He’d jammed his finger.
My husband looked at me and said, “This is where he becomes a football player.” Then he got up and pulled Noah aside. They had a brief conversation. Noah nodded and the next play, went back on the field.
“What did you say to him?” I asked when Andrew returned.
“I told him there’s no crying in football,” (a morph of one of our favorite League of their Own lines). He smiled.
I imagine there might have been more to that conversation.
The next play, Noah exploded off the line and chased down the QB. That game he had four sacks, and two flying tackles. He was spectacular. And for the rest of the season, he dominated that 8th grade football team.
But high school football is a bit different. Bigger guys, harder hits, tougher coaches.
A lot of jammed fingers.
Noah played hard his freshman year, got in on kickoff and saw some playing time when the score was 40 – 7. (our lead). But we had superstar juniors and seniors on our conference winning team, so mostly he played on the Red Dogs. The practice team. Like Rudy (remember Rudy?)
This year before the season started, he began working out. Lifting weights. Showing up to captain’s practice. I asked him what his goals were.
He looked at me like I’d just asked him if he knew how to read. “Starting Varsity DE, of course.”
Oh. Shoot. See, the mom in me knew that the competition was tough for DE. That sophomore Noah, although good, wasn’t big enough, strong enough, fast enough to beat out a senior for that spot. I just didn’t want him to be disappointed. So I fretted, but kept my mouth shut.
Every year, we have a blue/white scrimmage before the season to introduce the team to the community and give the kids a final chance to compete for starting positions. It’s a fun community event where we get a taste of the season.
Oh, we’re going to have a great season.
(As an aside – here are the football moms. Note that ONE of us forgot to wear her football gear. Sheesh, get in the game, Susie. More football mom commentary to come.)
I have to admit, while I watched big #33 make some awesome plays, I glued my eyes to #62. He played DE on the white team (they split the teams in half), and….
Well, this is him.
Exploding. Chasing down the QB. Making tackles.
Who is this kid?
I thought he did pretty well. And apparently so did his coaches because….
He made Starting Varsity Defensive End.
Take that, Mom.
Courage. Belief. I see it in the eyes of my sophomore. I love it when my kids teach me things.
So congratulations, Noah, the next football superstar in the family. We are so proud of you.
Now, listen boys, go win us a state championship.
Your biggest fan.