Well, they lost their last two games but that did not temper the pride in the hearts of the parents and grandparents on the sideline of the game on Sunday. They all held equal pride for that team of young men and one very brave girl. They fought very hard.
In the second half, one of their defenders came through and made a devastating hit on one of our guys. The boy lay there on his back after the powerful crunch. We all strained to see the number and my heart sank as I realized it was Jay. I know how hard it must have been for Carrie to not want to run out on the field. Jay is not one to just lay there so I knew he was hurt. So, I walked around the field to visit with my brave warrior. He had been hit hard and complained of his shoulder. Sitting next to him in equal misery was his friend and the coaches son, Luke. I have known Luke and his energetic personality for years. I asked him how he was and he began to tell me all of the parts of his body that hurt.
I looked at both of the boys and said, 'you both are tough, aren't you'. They both acknowledged me and I headed back to my spot on the other side of the field. I left just as the game was winding down with a kiss on top of Carrie's head and a request to let him know how proud I was of him.
We began setting up for the party about an hour before the diner closed. We cleared off one of the counters for the two chaffing dishes that were to be filled with stuff that all footballers love. Grilled cheese, Fries, Chicken Nuggets, and my favorite, Mini corn dogs.
My friend, Rick Steber (the author), stopped in to say Hi just before they got there. I wish that I had more time to visit with him but things needed to be set up and organized and before I knew it, Rick was gone.
The team began to arrive and sat around the tables in the middle of the room while the parents sat around the edge. Carrie put some pictures of the team on the TV to entertain the kids as they all showed up.
My favorite (outside of the obvious most favorite Jay), David Prickett came over and gave me a signed sports card of him. I was so honored by that gesture. I truly believe that the core spirit of this team was this young man. He not only gave 100% while he was out there on the field but he was also a leader and an encourager. I watched a touchdown for the other team right in front of me. One of our own guys inadvertently cut off David who was bearing down on the runner with no doubt in my mind a crunching tackle. As the team ran back to the huddle after the play, David openly patted the other teammate on the back letting him know that it was OK and he knew not meant. What a great gesture. I turned to the parents around me and openly said "That is why I like that guy so much. He is a not only a tenacious player but a good teammate also."
The feed started and the cooks strained to keep up with all of those young mouths. They chowed down on the buffet goods quicker than the cooks could fry more. I loved looking over the tables at all of those well mannered children having such a good time laughing and eating. Judy and the waitresses strained to keep up with their drinks. One of them ordered a strawberry lemonade. I started to protest while Judy corrected me. "This is our team", she stated as I got the strawberry juice out of the fridge to highlight the lemonade.
The coaches (five of them in all) got up and began to hand out the certificates with something to be said for each one of the valiant young warriors. Afterwards, Mark, the head coach called me forward to thank me for my support. Judy did not want to come so I grabbed her hand. Some of the parents noticed and encouraged her also. We shook the hands of all of the coaches and the kids presented us with a card that they and all of the parents had signed. I gazed over the many signatures but was not able to truly read the card until yesterday and actually teared up a bit reading it from the acknowledgements and thanks from the parents on not just the support of the team but of our community support. Those notes of thanks and encouragement validate that we are doing the right thing and I will always treasure that card.
Another good season and another picture plaque to put up on the wall.