Tuesday, August 10, 2010

If You Think It's Hot . . .

. . . try being one of the young men who showed up for the first day of football practice yesterday. Although practice didn't start until 6, the day had not really started to cool down.


It was really wonderful though to see all the eager boys and men. There were some women there but we were vastly outnumbered by dads. Very.Eager.Dads.  I won't say they were all reliving their glory days, or trying to be football heroes through their sons, but there were a few that . . .

The league my son is playing in is a developmental league. That means they are separated by weight classes within age groups, and the focus is on skills development. Everyone who wants to try it carries the ball. Everyone who wants to play has to a) keep their grades up and b) stay out of trouble at school. As the main coach bellowed last night, "This is NOT the stepping zone to the NFL. Stay out of trouble and do your homework!"

For a while I watched the 9-10 year olds. Their coach is built like a fireplug, but there's not an ounce of fat on him. He looks and sounds like a former Marine drill instructor. He had them in a circle and was walking around the circle. He wasn't very tall, but taller than them! He cracked out, "when I say 'eyes', you say 'sir'"! The dialogue of 'eyes' and 'sir' gained volume even as I went to the next group.


The anklebiters are the under 75lb players. They have to be at least 6 years old. Some of them were clearly ready to tackle MUCH bigger kids. Some of them looked like they wanted to be anywhere else but there! There were a lot more moms near this group.

And finally, the big guys. The 150-170lb group, all 13 and 14. That's my son - 170 and 5'11". Not much fat on him, just a really big kid and still growing. I'm really proud of him. I think it shows tremendous character to try something new when you're 13.

One of the things we discussed before he went to practice is that he has a choice every time he's out there -- to be a follower or to be a leader. And that he will be hot, tired, hurt, and angry, but that his witness is more important than any of those things. I think he gets that, but we'll see.

He did tell me there was one other boy who has as little experience as him and knows even LESS about football. But that kid is black, so the other black kids were really harassing him about being clueless. Then my son said, "but I also don't open my mouth and let them know how little I know."  Ah yes . . . better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. That is indeed, my son!

9 comments:

quilly said...

Speaking of witness, I hope your son befriended the clueless kid. Sports arenas are indeed a hard place to to promote the kinder sensibilities, but there are players in the big leagues who managed it and they had to start as kids. Remind your son of that if he ever feels down.

SouthLakesMom said...

I think 'befriend' on the first day is stretching it, but I do think he felt a kinship and sympathy which will hopefully strengthen both of them this week! My son could barely get out of bed this a.m.!

Thom said...

I like the sound of this myself. Stay out of trouble and do your homework. What an idea. I'll be anxious to hear and see how little doubt your son has at the end of all of this. Silence is golden!!!

SouthLakesMom said...

Yes, Thom -- and the coach said if the coaches find out about them violating either of those, the boys will be BENCHED...love it, just love it!

Sweet Tea said...

I sweat just thinking about those kids out there in the heat. My husband still talks about summer football practice - it's a matter of great pride for him...I hope your son LOVES the season. Very brave to "jump in" when others have been there before. Good for him!!

Jingle said...

lovely post.
I love watching games kids play.

Nessa said...

It is always best to keep quiet when beginning a new endeavor.

I get hot just thinking about them in the Summer heat.

Mary said...

Hey, at least they get to practice on grass. The high school band practices in a parking lot: heat index around 110. It was hot out there!

SouthLakesMom said...

Mary, I'm laughing because his reasoning for playing football is because he IS a musician and good enough to be in the higher level band in high school...but the only way you get out of doing marching band is to play football!

So he needed to build the skill set this year (8th grade) to play football next year so he won't have to march. Personally, I don't get it -- I would much rather march, having spent many years in marching band. But this kid definitely moves to his OWN drummer!