Last night marked the end of the boys' football season. The coach informed us of the traditional "fun practice" on the last night, where the team just plays a scrimmage game. Unfortunately, the boys' expectations were NOT met, and last night they proceeded to laundry list the reasons they weren't happy with the game. It became clear that this last hurrah was really a chance for the outgoing varsity players to have some fun and end on a high note -- even if that meant the coaches and refs bent the rules of play a little to give the older boys an advantage. (But really, when you're 12 and playing against 9, 10 and 11 year olds... don't you already have the advantage?)
Today we turn in equipment at the PAL center. I clearly remember the day Jack and Charlie got their equipment, when their eyes literally sparkled with anticipation of the coming season. Today? I predict I will see two boys who have grown in both their love of the sport and skill level. They will take with them memorized plays, the language of which still sounds like jibberish to me. They will take with them the pride in always playing hard and giving their all -- and never, NEVER quitting.
I will take with me the rush of pride and spirit I felt when I saw 8 and 12 out on the field. And a whole bunch of photographs of the same.
Together we will look forward to next year, when they will move up to the JV orange squad. We will anticipate them beginning practices in the sweltering, often-oppressive heat of August, and ending their season at a championship game on a crisp, cool October morning.
Here's to you Jack and Charlie... and the rest of the Raiders. Great job this season. There may not be a trophy with your name on it this year, but go forward and make next year YOUR year!