Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Football is a Family Affair ~ This Season's Highlights

Can you hear me sniffling?? I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but last Saturday Ben and Andrew played in their final football games of the season, and I'm still feeling a wee bit sad knowing it's over. I know it's pitiful, but you have to believe that my emotions are NOT stemming from some crazy love for the game itself or for the fact that my heart swells just seeing the boys out on the field.  The reason for my sadness is that the past 7 weekends have been so dad-gum much fun, I don't want it to end!

The simple truth is I was surprised at the unexpected way that something as ordinary as youth football, an activity that we almost did not let the top two participate in, has brought our family together even closer, and it's THAT VERY togetherness has filled my heart with so much joy!
Sometimes it's really difficult for kids to be involved in various activities, especially sports, without those ventures causing separation within a family.  Parents and children are split up, running like crazy in different directions at different speeds with different goals and ambitions (For me, personally, that's not my idea of fruitful family life.).  I have written in the past about youth sports - everything from balancing schedules to dealing with over-zealous coaches, but more importantly how sports, with the proper guidance, can be a great opportunity for kids to learn virtue, to develop strong self-esteem, and to appreciate the value of hard work and dedication, all things that we hope will transfer into other areas of life outside the sporting world.
One of the blessings of our recent move is that we live just a few minutes from the high school where Ben and Andrew had practice each week. While they practiced, Steve and I had time to play with the rest of the gang, or to sneak in a quick jog around the track, while the younger ones were content to dig in the long jump sand pit or ride their bikes around the bleachers.

On game days, we were able to attend nearly every event together as a family.  The little ones were thrilled at the chance to run around carefree with their friends, and on occasion would also help Steve move the chains during a game, or tag along with me while I took pictures.
The sweet sound of Henry, George and Charlie cheering on their big bros never got old.  To top off their endless enthusiasm, after every game, they would bound over to Ben and Andrew shouting, "Way to go! You played awesome!"  Being outdoors in the beautiful fall weather, watching each boy relish in all of the fun to be had, feasting on snacks, making new friends and celebrating victories made this season's journey a positive experience for our entire family.

The whole thing may sound a little bit idealistic, but of course it wasn't.  There were plenty tear-your-hear out tantrums, mad-dash searches for lost uniforms, and healthy doses of whining (most of which happened just trying to herd the crew out the door to get to the games on time). But, what I remember - what I choose to remember - and what I want the boys to look back and remember about the season, are the moments that were overflowing with goodness, and those moments were many.
I always have great intentions to take with each new season of sports, but I keep running into the same problem - you have to hold still to to capture the perfect image - this is a issue for me, especially when the boys are sacking the QB or leading the charge into the end zone! This is the best of what I captured this season:
Benedict played several positions on the defensive team, and ended the season with a record of 5 - 2. He enjoys everything about football on and off the field.  If I have any questions about the game, he's my walking encyclopedia of football facts. I see him in a suit one day anchoring at ESPN!

Ready to block.

Ben's got Mr. Miyagi Focus. Wax on, wax off. Hello? Karate Kid? Long live the 80's.

Andrew's team also finished the season 5-2.  He held the outside linebacker position on the defensive team for the entire season, but was also great sub on the offensive line, and even had the opportunity to run the ball a few times, and he ran it well, most of the time right into the end-zone! Andrew is convinced that he will play college football for K-State after which he'll become a chaplain for the Green Bay Packers. Football and the priesthood, right on.
Takin' it to the end zone!
I wish I would have counted Andrew's tackles this season.  He had so many. 
Blitzing the QB was his favorite.
Blocking the pass.

A.K.A. chief snack coordinator/consumer and cutest cheerleader ever.  This kid can go with the flow like nobody's business. After a couple of games he knew exactly what to expect.  The moment very moment we stepped out of the parking lot and into the stadium, he would start to cheer, "Go Andrew, go Andrew!" or "Go Ben, go Ben!"
One of his favorite moves is to get down in the three-point stance and shout, "Down, set, hut-hut!" Unless, of course, he's holding a ring-pop that was purchased for him illegally by an older brother at the junk stand, which tends to throw his charisma off a bit. The cute factor is still pretty high, though.
Popcorn is the babysitting boss.  It usually keeps Charlie occupied until half-time, therefore any brother who steals the popcorn is subject to permanent snack shack suspension.
It's possible he gets his chugging skills from his mother. Bottom's up! (The hot chocolate drool is too much!)
I have to lump these two together, because they were two peas in a pod at every game.  I think they watched approximately 8 minutes of football the entire season. Both preferred to socialize with other kids and seek adventure outside the bleachers, which was a-okay with us. Just one of the perks of living in a small town with the most amazingly good and kind people.  I can actually relax just a little bit!
One of Benedict's games was played on a field that lied adjacent to a milo field.  On the edge of the field was a path of soft brome grass that had just been swathed - the perfect place for a mama bunny to nest her babies!
As soon as the boys discovered the nest, all of the children came running, and everyone wanted to take one home, including George.  I just hope the mama returned to the nest and did not abandon the babies after they had been held by the kiddos.
Now that football season is over, we have a couple of weeks to catch our breath.  Then, it's on to wrestling and basketball! Ready or not, here we come!



  1. I have been moaning and groaning about the busyness of sports lately. Thank you for the reminder about the good that comes from it all. There is so much good.
    Your Charlie and my youngest would get along fabulously. Mine even knows which parents on each team brings snacks specifically for our kids. Not many parents of teens are also parents of preschoolers, so parents bring snacks to bribe our little ones to sit with them.

  2. Oh - it sounds like a perfect family event!!!
    Neither of my boys ever played football but my oldest is in marching band so we get our football that way!!!
    And, my youngest is going to try wrestling this year - I've heard that there will be some long days ahead at the tournaments - I might have to come back and re-read this to try and have the attitude you do!!!

  3. Oh, sports season! We are a soccer family, hubby coaches and the fall season just ended, I had 4 out of 5 kids on teams (two were on the same team, and hubby coached two of their teams). It makes for a busy season, but I love it for all the reasons you listed. Our whole family attends, the younger kids play with the other siblings during games and they also get to help at practices. Two year olds make awesome cheerleaders and mascots (and somehow always score some after game snacks). And those bunnies!! Too cute!


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