Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Things You Get....BESIDES....A Win

The game was over and our team walked away with the win. A long overdue, hard fought win. After weeks and weeks of playing, practicing, watching game film, and receiving their fair share of constructive criticism and true blue plays that were sure to bring a victory, they have a win on the board.  Each team has met on their respective sides of the field, said their team prayers and have disbursed to mix and mingle, or get back on the bus.

It was a hard fought game, played fair and square. No bad calls, no unsportsmanlike conduct.....just hard, tough, physical playing from both sides of the formation line.Which is how all games should be played.

We're all standing around glowing in the light of the moon, the brightness of the reflection that shining, happy faces bring, and the smell of victory is in the air. We've taken lots of pictures already, in every possible way you can imagine.  Everybody wanting to be in everybody elses pictures.

All of a sudden we hear people in all directions calling his name. Zach's name. Hollering..."Zach Helms..Hey, has anyone seen Zach?" Now there are multiple voices calling out his name and we're all turning around to see what all the commotion is about.  As we turn around, we see a team member from the other team, the team who just took their first loss of this season, walking towards us through the opening of the crowd that surrounded him. He's coming towards Zach, and I'm thinking, what in the world is going on? I'm looking around and the rest of his team is already off the field. We would later find out that he was walking around asking who Number 55 was....and as he was being told, Zach's name was echoing into the night.

He walked firmly and boldly towards my son, stopped in front of him, extended his hand, and said " Hey Man, I just wanted to tell you what a great game you played tonight, I just wanted to meet you and tell you, you held me down all night long, you played a good game, congratulations".  Zach shook his hand and returned the kind words. We all stood there in silence and watched as he walked off the almost empty field, towards his own team bus, as the rest of his teammates were already off the field and boarding the bus. A couple of minutes had passed and I looked at my son and said, "you should probably consider that to be one of the best highlights of your high school football career."

The humbleness and respect with which that young man carried himself and spoke was something every mother wants to know she has taught her child.  He got his behind handed back to him all night long, and that he was man enough to say that, after such a gut wrenching loss was pretty amazing to this mother.

I don't know you're name Number 56, but I want you to know, you've got some proud parents out there somewhere, and they dang well should be.  Last night was just another fine example, of what winning is really all about. The highest number on the scoreboard  sure does feel good, but the feeling from an experience like Zach had last night is next to none. I told my son..this is your opportunity to remember this night, and do what I always hope that he it forward.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

From Shoestrings to Helmet Straps

Kyle Skipper & Zach
It was just another typical work day. The kind where some things go right, and a lot of others don't. I had worked through part of my lunch, and would still be late getting off at the end of the day. A five o'clock departure wasn't going to happen, and I would once again drive in, tires screaming into the after school care to pick up my eight year old. He would probably give me that "why am I always here last" look, and I would feel guilty. Again.

But instead, this day, I would arrive to find my eight year old sitting in the middle of the floor, tying the shoe strings on the shoes of a little boy who appeared to be about three years old. My eight year old would also be surrounded by about three other little boys, all in the same age range, all patiently waiting their turn to have their shoes re-tied as well. I knew this because as I walked up, my son's back was to me, and I stood there and watched the scene before me, as each one of those little boys scooted in closer, vying for his attention, for each of them to be next, by saying, "I'm next Zach, do mine next".

I stood there while he continued the regime, and as the last shoe was being tied, the little owner of the shoe looked up and said, "Hey Zach, your Mommy is here". Zach turned around, looked at me, turned back around, patted all four little boys on the tops of their heads, tousling their hair as he did, and said to each and every one, "See you later Buddy". He stood up, picked up his book bag, slung it over his shoulder and said "Hey Mama, when did you get here?" and as I looked at my little boy, sounding like a grown boy, I said, "Just now Bud, how was your day?"

As I look at this brand new, very young, Robert F Munroe Football team, these are the memories that flood my mind. The boys have new RFM coaches, albeit veterans in their field, and then they have their own veteran coaches that have remained loyal to our team and teams of past, and a lot of new players. Young or old, when you have a lot of players that are new to one another, it is going to take time to meld and form into a well oiled machine of a team.

Jackson Boone & Zach

Zach understands all of that, as well as the reasoning behind the miles of hard work that is yet to be done. Yes, it would be great to have a Senior year of football where all the players knew one another, knew all the plays and could read each others minds and moves and have all wins on the scoreboard. But the reality is a different story and to be able adjust to that is going to be the secret to their success this year.

So I watch Zach and the other "bigger" boys and how they are handling themselves with the younger, smaller boys. I watch them as they roar as loud as mountain lions when they are trying to get their attention, and I watch as they pat a shoulder or the top of a helmet when they know that some encouragement is needed as well.

Nobody really wants to hear about all the events in your life that can be viewed as character builders or lessons in humility.  Both of those things always seem to imply that your own lessons will have to be learned in order to achieve either one.  But that's exactly what is happening. It's Zach's job if you will, all over again, to sit down on the ground and tie some shoestrings. To watch the younger faces looking back up at him, and show them support, proper leadership and kindness. To pat them on the head and shoulders, and at the end of the season, hand the football over to them and say "See you later Buddy".

Because it will soon be their time. It will be their job to strap on their own helmets and find their own way. But until then, this is Zach's time. John Dayton's time. Jordan's time. And Vince's time. Enjoy what you have, and teach all that you know. And make the best memories you know how, with the time that you have. This year you will need to concentrate on not what you can take with you from this experience, but what you can leave behind. And patiently tie those shoe strings every chance you get, they will never forget you, and you will all be the better for it.