Game Week

Football and Family

It’s here. Game Week. All around the country people are pulling out tailgating equipment, checking the weather and planning outfits, and celebrating the return of football. I realize there is a lot going on in the world, but I live in the south…and football rules right now.

Here on the home front, we are excited about our first game. It’s an odd week with a Thursday night game, but that means we might actually have a tiny part of the weekend as a family. My boys are excited about getting to go in a little late on Friday for school as well. (I always tell them they can sleep in, but they never do.)

At the same time, the nerves have started. This is the first real contest. Practices, scrimmages, walk-thru practices are all focused on one thing…Thursday night. Evening games have a different energy to them in my opinion. Something about being under the lights, the cooler air, it’s just something you need to experience.

As the week goes on, I’ll review the injuries out at practice. I’ll chat with guys trying to encourage them if they are being held out. I’ll watch the quarterbacks and remember a good play or series to comment on later. They will come back and remind me of a mistake, and I’ll remind them no one is perfect, but I expect their best effort. They will smile and say “yes Ma’am” and hug me before jogging to the locker room.

Cookies will be baked, community members invited to join us at the game, and we will pull out our game day attire to make sure everything is ready to go.

As game day arrives we will drive to the stadium, grab dinner with the tailgating crew if they are out and head into say a quick hello to Ordell before heading up the stands. I can’t explain it, but I’ve developed a habit of watching the refs during warm-ups. Do they interact with the coaches and players? Are they faces I recognize? Fans we haven’t seen since November will greet us excitedly. We will catch up on life since last season, discuss the new recruits and my memory will be tested as I try to connect position, name, and face of our 110 players, many of them new to anyone who asks.

Parents will greet us, excited to hear all that has transpired since reporting day. I’ll try my best to encourage them that things are great. I’ll answer any questions I can, occasionally connect a parent with a professor and thank them all for coming to the game.

My kids will sing the national anthem, memorized by age 5 for each of them, with the crowd. The team will run onto the field waving the college flag high and then the game will begin. I’ll pace, stomp my foot, answer questions about anything asked the best I can, and make sure my kids don’t eat themselves sick on potato chips (it’s happened before).

Throughout the game, my boys will ask to go see a friend in the stands or to head to the bathroom. I’ll survey the “safest” route for them. My hope is to always shield them from an adult who might forget our sons are just 9 and 11 and take their frustration with Ordell out on them. For the most part, I’m successful in this.

At the end of the game, win or lose, we will walk on the field and hug Ordell. We will smile and try to take it in. I will walk my way through our team loving on whoever will allow it. I’ll check on any injuries sustained to see if help will be needed in the coming week. We will point out successful plays, great attitudes, and improved skill. We will thank the fans for celebrating with us, and we will go home. We will try hard to remember that our identities are not the end result of a football game. The frustrated fans (they are present win or lose) are not the judge and jury. We will try to move past the emotions of the day and settle the boys down for the evening.

At some point in the middle of the night, I will roll over to discover Ordell is awake, reviewing the game film, making notes, pointing out successes, and correcting errors. There is very little time to dwell on the game because each week there is another game coming and the routine of the film, practice and meetings must go on.

The morning begins Game Week again. Six days later we will wake up and the calendar will remind us it is Game Day once again.