I love watching High school and College football, especially when you know people on the team. I enjoy watching Sam play. But as a military mom, I hate team sports! Every time we move, my kids have to prove themselves and if they aren't amazing- beyond belief they get cut. And even if they are amazing they have to prove it over and over and over, before right about the end of the season, the coach believes it (and so do the other players- at least the ones that aren't getting their spot taken.) We got Sam to the states as soon as possible so he could start working out with the team. I would have much rather have traveled around Europe for the summer and come here in August! It took until we found a house and had an agreement with them that they would allow him to practice with the team. We figured this too, so the day after we hit the ground we were running, looking at houses. We landed Friday night and signed on a house on Sunday.
Football is intense and a little over the top, here. Everyone I talked to was trying to get their son into college ball and were paying for extra coaching on the side or recruiting agents. They had all been in football since they could walk too! Summer training was mandatory- expect you weren't allowed to say that out loud, since it wasn't supposed to be mandatory. Once I finished a run early and watched the practice and realized immediately why it was mandatory. They weren't doing conditioning, they were doing full on practices- running plays, offense, defense, the whole ball of wax!
Practices started at 6:15 am. We lived on the base until we could get into our house at the end of July. So from the end of June until the end of July I drove Sam to practice, leaving at 5:40 every morning. I would sleep a little in the car and then go for a run. There was no vacation time and anyone that suggested around July 4th that they may not be around some of the next week were told that they might as well give up on their dreams of playing that year then. If we had gotten Sam there any later in the summer, I'm sure he wouldn't have made the team.
They did end summer "conditioning" with a fun water fight and slip and slide.
They all divided up according to grade on different sides of the field and then came at each other. The seniors started out with vehicles,
but this was quickly kiboshed by the coach! Looked fun, but I can see the possibility of serious injury!
Sam made Junior varsity. The kid in his position on varsity had the fastest time in the nation for the 400m. He was running olympic women's winning times. Last year Sam never came out the game. This year it seemed he barely went in.
The first game was a scrimmage- it's never good when your kid is one of two kids that come out without a jersey on! Never a good sign. He ended up having to get a jersey off a kid on Varsity after they were done playing. Gross!
He played offense
and special teams,
but they took him out often- anytime they were running the ball and they ran the ball a lot! Considering that there were about 120 kids on all 3 teams there were plenty of kids that never got into the ball game, period! His grandma and grandpa came down to see him play and that game got canceled midway through because of rain. He started the game, but we were late and didn't see. He had just been taken out when we got there. They only put him in a couple of times after that. So Grandma and Grandpa didn't get to see much.
Then there was the whole Homecoming fiasco. Everyone on Varsity and JV were allowed to dress out and stand on the sidelines for the homecoming game, except Sam. He was ineligible, because he was a transfer student. He wrote me this from school after he found out and I went nuclear parent! I emailed and texted coaches and athletic directors. In the end they made me do exception paperwork for military students and he was allowed to dress out. He told me that I never told him, but I did. He just thought I was saying, "oh you are going to be allowed to dress out if I have anything to say about it!" So he didn't bring his stuff. In the end, it was probably a good thing. No JV player got to play even though it was a blow out game, so they all just sat around with their pads and helmets on. Sam on the other hand, stood on the sidelines and comfortably played catch with some of the injured guys. Later I had a sit down meeting with the athletic director and football coach to advocate for military children to hopefully make sure nothing like that ever happened again to those who were just trying to fit in and become part of team. These kids lead a hard enough life! They thought I was going to go all nuclear on them again so they were recording it and trying to be all diplomatic to begin with. When I was done calmly talking to them they were amazed and relieved. I am afraid this school knows who I am and they shake a little when I come in. I have never been that kind of a parent before, but sometimes you just have to go a little crazy to make sure your kid is treated fairly in a school that doesn't understand what a military kid goes through!
It took until the last game of the year that they finally agreed he was good enough to play both offense and defense.
He still got taken out a lot, but that's because it was the last game of the season and the coach made a point of getting every single kid in. He took Sam off of one kick off and put this kid in that was so super excited he messed it up! They had to re-kick! It was so cute. I did feel bad for him though. It meant that he hadn't played much if at all the entire season. Sam got to catch multiple balls that game and even ran one to within 10 yards of the touch down, but he never did get that touchdown. They always took him out at that point. Made me so mad!
He has started individual sports now- Wrestling- and shockingly enough, he is Varsity. I like individual sports. You either have it or you don't and there is no politics involved. There is no bias from the coaches who have "not" recruited players. There is no quarterback that favors the other kids more than yours. Sam promised us that this wasn't the case for him, but all we know is that he was open a lot! The coaches noticed it too and started yelling at the quarterback over and over until he started looking at Sam a little more. That's team ball.
You know, I always thought I would be a team mom or a big time booster club parent, but those women here are scary. They look at you like they want to bite your head off, but always with a smile on their face. I think I'll just stay with my husband in the stands and send in cookies every once in awhile!