The Boys of Fall...
Two weeks before my son’s first birthday, I woke him early. I mixed up some rice cereal, opened a jar of fruit mush, and warmed a bottle of formula. A fresh diaper was provided. We loaded into my truck and headed to breakfast. I had a taco and he mostly watched me eat and made a mess of his Cheerios. After breakfast, I ordered a “to go” cup of coffee and we headed up to the football practice fields behind Llano High School. The Jackets started that season at 7:00 am.
Two-a-days were here and Dad wanted to see and feel the pulse and electricity of that first fall practice. Parker mostly crawled around the bed of the truck and tried to taste every blade of hay or rusty object he could find under the toolbox. I don’t recall much about the practice. Mostly, I entertained a twelve month old. Nonetheless, it was a fine morning.
Fast forward seven years and, this morning, we were at it again. My alarm went off at 5:47 and I rolled as quietly as I could into the shower, so as not to wake Mom. After cleaning up, I planned on attempting to wake my almost eight-year-old from his deep summer slumber. To my surprise, he was already awake and snuggling his momma before I got to him. We finished getting ready, as quietly as two giddy boys could, and headed to the donut shop. After breakfast, we went to the fields and enjoyed the same feeling of excitement and promise that each team has on day one. This year we made it through a whopping thirty minutes before Parker was bored and ready to start his own exciting day. All we really got to see was a bunch of conditioning drills and which boys were so out of shape that they lost their breakfast. Nonetheless, it was a fine morning.
There have been many good books, songs, and movies that have attempted to convey the feeling of Texas high school football. With no disrespect to any of them, it’s a task that cannot truly be communicated through words or tunes or pictures. For those who have run the gauntlet from junior high through senior year, football is more of a lifelong feeling than a story to be told. It’s fresh mowed grass, the smell of a locker room, and the taste of water from an old hose. It’s the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when the band starts to play. Football is pep rallies, bonfire, brotherhood, and the perverse pleasure of being so spent, so exhausted, so out of breath that you couldn’t possibly push more. Then you push more. It’s lessons about discipline, fairness, loyalty, and honor. It’s cheerleaders, booster clubs, teachers, bands and drill teams and trainers and little kids running around beneath the stands. In truth, Texas football is a common bond that most of us in this state share in some way, shape or form as participants or spectators or families of both.
I guess you could say it’s in our blood.
Until next week, keep smiling.
And have a safe and successful 2013 school year.
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