Saturday, November 28, 2015

My Boy of Fall

My firstborn is a high school senior, and he plays football.

This is a combination that has brought this mama to tears so many times this year. Heck, listening to Kenny Chesney sing Boys of Fall now makes me cry. 

Until high school ... or really until his senior year ... I never really understood what playing high school football is like for a boy. And by extension, for his mama. 

South Forsyth War Eagle Seniors
These boys really are his family. His brotherhood. They've got his back 24/7. They're his best friends on and off the field. 


And at Sandy's high school, I love that they find a way to stretch the brotherhood to include boys and girls who don't actually put on pads. They have the Blue Crew Posse — or BCP. Each senior player has a boy and a girl who "represent" them throughout the season. They wear t-shirts with their name and number on them. They are at every game — they come early, and stay late. They cheer with them in victory, and cry with them in defeat. 

Sandy and Jack after a big win.
Sandy's BCP rep was Jack. They've known each other since they played tee-ball together when they were 4 years old. We unknowingly moved into Jack's neighborhood when Sandy was 5, and that was the beginning of a friendship that would stand the test of time. Yes, in high school when Sandy dropped baseball to focus on football and Jack stuck with baseball, they drifted apart some. They didn't always run with the exact same crowd. But when senior year came and Jack chose to represent Sandy on the BCP, it was like they were 10 years old again. Brothers.

Last night, their Cinderella season came to an end. After beating their arch-rivals to secure the Region 6-AAAAA championship, they beat two teams that each had multiple recent state championship banners to make it to the quarterfinals of the state tournament. Last night they were matched up with the defending state champions, riding a 27-game winning streak. Now it's 28 games.

... and after the big loss.

Those boys played their hearts out. A team that is used to winning games using their second string found themselves on the low side of the scorecard at multiple points in the game — right into the fourth quarter. And this mama who never really cared about football — who never even really liked it — found herself screaming like a banshee and crying like a baby. 

Football gave my son so much that a mother just can't. And it took me until his senior year to really get it.

He learned the value of teamwork and how every player is valuable.

One of his best friends on the team has a spinal condition that kept him stepping on the field all year (except for one play on senior night, but we won't tell his doctors about that one). But if Matthew hadn't been on the sidelines at every game, something would be missing. And my son isn't the star quarterback or running back or wide receiver. He's a long-snapper and plays on the defensive line. Yet he learned how a bad snap or a missed tackle can make or break a play … and a play make or break a drive … and a drive make or break a possession … and a possession make or break a game. And isn't that a lot like life? Big things are really the culmination of lots of little things done repetitively along the way.

He learned to have joy in the success of others and respect for authority.

I saw him feel true joy in a game played well. And he was always overjoyed when his teammates had a great play or game. He also showed his coaches more respect than just about anyone else in his life. Those choices — to be happy for others and to show respect — will always serve him well.

And I learned to love things that he loves.

That’s an important thing for a mom to learn, and I'm not sure I could have learned it any other way. I’m just sorry it took me so long.

Senior Night

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