Friday, September 12, 2014

It's Here!

The night (and days) are getting colder and colder. This past week we've barely made it out of the 50s. Days are filled with school and afternoons are packed with homework. After the warm ease of summer it is enough to make the kids cry. There is one thing that makes it all bearable.  

Football. 

Both Todd and I come from football families. My dad was a pretty big deal around here. He played on the only undefeated football team in his college's history (Mission House- now Lakeland College). Then he went on to play semi professional football for the Redwings. The Packers got wind of my dad and wanted him to try out just as my dad got drafted into the army during the Korean War. Todd's dad was a fantastic football player in high school (and Todd never knew it until he was going through his dad's old year book and read, "Twinkle, twinkle football star, what a bashful boy you are") and received full ride football scholarships to Marquette (who had a football team at the time) and Madison (to play for the Badgers). Then of course there is Todd. First team all conference in high school and college. Needless to say we are a football family. If there would be a women's football team around here there is NO DOUBT I would have wanted to be on it. 

We love football. And, apparently, so do our kids.

The boys wait anxiously all year for football season to roll around and this year was especially exciting.  This was Ben's first year being able to play flag football. For four years Ben had to traipse with us to Joey's and Tommy's flag football games and finally, FINALLY, it was his turn. Each week since I signed Ben up in June he would ask how many days until football started. 
Finally Ben gets Coach Daddy all to himself. The past few weeks Todd and Ben would go off together to the practices and this past Monday Ben had his first game. Never mind that the teams don't keep score. Never mind that it doesn't even follow a regular flow of a game just yet (each team gets 6 plays and then they switch). This was a big deal.  All day long Ben told his teachers and classmates that he had a big game tonight. It was too sweet for words.

The "Big Game" came and Ben did great. He stole flags, he hiked the ball, he even got a touchdown. I am so happy to say that the first game expectations really lived up to the hype. Ben had a blast.
This football season is a big deal for the two older boys as well. Todd and I broke down and finally decided to let them join tackle football. We talked to the program directors and really liked how instructional and supportive the tackle league is. Part of me thought that Tommy might be a little young for tackle but Todd assured me that the 4th grade level was fairly gentle.

I must admit that after watching Tommy in practice I am now more concerned about Tommy hurting someone else than Tommy getting hurt. That kid knows what he is doing and he loves to hit. He has such natural athletic ability and no fear. 
At practice Tommy made the tackle on almost every single play. I'm not even exaggerating. Almost every. Single. Play. The coaches were really getting a kick out of watching Tommy.

Last Saturday Tommy had his first tackle football game and he was all business out on that field. The other team couldn't get any yardage because Tommy was making every tackle. The other team double teamed Tommy and he'd still make the tackle. No matter where that ball went number 4 was on it, flinging himself into every tackle. He was in heaven! And I was in heaven watching him help the tackled opponents up and pat them on the back. Warmed this mama's heart to see what a compassionate player he is.
Joey is on the 6th grade north side tackle football team. It is a fairly large team (about 40 players) and Joey is one of only a few new players. I know it was intimidating for him, being the new guy, trying to learn all the plays, all the different positions, but he threw himself into the practices full bore. At his very first practice the kids did calisthenics for close to an hour before they even got to drills. When I saw the kids doing push ups I assumed Joey would have a tough time since he was never a fan of push ups. Yet I watched as Joey did 20 push ups in full pads. I was amazed. As Joey ran over to me to grab his water I said, "Holy push ups, Joe! Where did that come from?"  Joe just smiled, shrugged, and went about his business. I could tell he was pleased.
At Joey's 1st game a few weeks ago he ran up to me right before the game began and handed me a baby tooth that he had just lost. I must be honest and admit that it choked me up a little bit, watching my oldest run off to join his tackle football team as I held on to one of his last baby teeth. What a juxtaposition between boy and man.
This football season has already done amazing things for Joe. I can physically SEE the confidence Joey is gaining even in just the last few weeks. He began the games a little timidly. Mostly watching and observing. He went from being in for only a few plays to playing most of the game in just 3 weeks. With each game he has grown more and more confident, making plays, making the tackle, helping his team. Before he wanted to do it and now he knows that he can do it. Watching Joey work so hard and feel proud of himself is just priceless.

I have always loved football.  And even though these last few weeks of football schedules has been tough with three boys in practices and games, I am so thankful for it. I'm thankful for the work ethic it helps instill in the boys. I'm thankful for the confidence it is giving them. And I'm thankful that they have proven to themselves that they are capable of more than they thought they were.

And I know, for sure, that somewhere there are two grandpa angels watching, smiling, cheering on, and getting a bang out of their football boys.

10 comments:

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Fun times for both you AND your kids! You took some nice photos, too!

Mom24 said...

Wow! I can not even imagine. My heart was in my throat enough when my oldest wrestled. :) Have fun!

betty said...

Wishing them all a successful football season with no injuries :)

betty

Bijoux said...

The only sport my son never played was football! Isn't that funny? My husband played till high school, but chose baseball and basketball. They are both huge college football fans though!

Hope your boys have a great season!

Wisconsin Girl said...

Great shots! What a fun time of year for you and your family!

Elaine Alguire said...

Wow, this makes them look so big and grown up to me, someone who has been keeping up for a "few" years with your kids! ;)

I'm glad they are doing so well and that you are loving it too. What a great way to stay fit and have fun at the same time.

Verna Lantz said...

Ahhh, little boys playing football...there's nothing like it. Very autumn, very fun. Great pictures!

Hilary said...

Those boys are growing quickly. I have never been much of a sports fan but I can imagine the pride you feel watching your boys play a sport that you've always enjoyed.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Hey, I have ownership in the Green Bay Packers. I'm shareholder. Want to puke over the game on Sunday -- especially since my husband is a Lions fan. Had to put up with that.

My brother lives in Sheboygan. My sister-in-law a teacher there and my brother in the city engineering dept. Been there many, many, many times. Now I know why you're chopping wood in the other post I read. Hopefully it will be a mild winter for you.

Kat said...

Midlife- Wow! What a small world, huh? I love this city. I grew up here and didn't appreciate it as a kid/teenager. Then I moved away for a few years and realized what a gorgeous place it is. But yes, it gets VERY cold. ;)

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson