It's a whole new experience, the world of football!
We dipped our toes in the water last fall. Zoe decided to try cheerleading last year to meet "town friends". Minimal commitment. A chance for her to flip around, yell loudly, and wear a short skirt. Custom made for Zoe! Me, however, not so much. I am NOT a cheer mom. No offense to any of you that are...but it's not me. Maybe it didn't help that I was busier than busy! Zoe was also playing soccer on her middle school soccer team. Ty was playing soccer (practice 2x/week and 1 game) and Fall baseball (practice 1x/week and at least one game). Plus, the triplets were finally old enough for town soccer. That was 2 more teams (I kept Eli and Cole on the same team but our town doesn't have coed teams so Ava was on her own) with a practice and a game each week. So...adding in a Saturday night (and sometimes Sunday afternoon) football game where I was cheering on a cheerleader and didn't really know anyone else, wasn't exactly my first choice. It wasn't horrible. I got used to it. And Zoe absolutely loved it!
The past few years, Ty has asked to play football. He has never followed, through. He's always decided to do soccer instead. But this year, he asked again. So did Eli. Zoe still wanted to cheer. That put us over the family max for registration costs so I made an executive decision: We were going to be a football family this fall! No fall baseball. No soccer (aside from Zoe playing for the MS team). Just football and cheer. Cole could give it a shot. Ava could cheer. Done!
Fast forward to the summer. Vacations being scheduled. Baseball wrapping up. School supply lists coming out. And suddenly I find my email inbox inundated with emails from all sorts of coaches: football camp, cheer camp, equipment pickup, weigh ins, uniform distribution, halftime routines, cheer showcases, A teams, B teams, play books, half rack, full pads...AHHHHH! What had I done?
Yes, there was a major August time commitment, but that was the least of my worries. I've always considered myself "the son my father always wanted" when it came to sports (yes, I know I have 2 brothers, but I was clearly the most interested kid in the family) and I can definitely talk baseball or basketball with the best of them. But football? It's a whole new language. I'm not talking AFC, NFC, rivalries, penalties or rules. And I'm not even talking formations, positions, running patterns or tackling techniques. Have any of you ever attempted to dress a football player? Pads...girdles...mouth guards...chin straps...Under Armor...helmets...practice pants...game pants...etc. I was just a little overwhelmed, to say the least. Not to mention, I hadn't yet even attempted to put the right pads in the right places...the right ways...at the right times! How was I going to keep it all straight?
Initially, there was excitement about the season. They were psyched to try on equipment. They wore the helmets around the house. They slept in their Under Armor. They fell asleep studying their playbooks. They asked for a daily countdown to the first practice.
And then it happened. Reality set in. The thought of voluntarily throwing yourself at another player...possibly larger than yourself...suddenly didn't sound fun. It sounded scary! There were tears. There were requests to quit. There were excuses made to attempt to skip practice. But the boys all assured me that I couldn't!
Yes, it was a rough start to the season. Yes, it was a learning curve (for the record, "half rack" means just shoulder pads and helmet.) Yes, there were moments of me bribing the boys to get to practice. And yes, there was Picture Day, aka: "The day mom lost her mind and swore we would never be allowed to do another after-school activity ever!"
But then there were the moments that made Momma proud. Like Cole smirking and telling me, "MAYBE he would play again next year!" Or Ty asking if he could continue to practice with the playoff team even though he's not going to get into another game. Or Eli and Cole leading warm-up drills for their team. Or Zoe doing multiple round-off back handsprings across the front of her squad in formation during the Cheer Showcase. Or Ava with blue lips cheering her heart out for her brothers on a rainy sideline.
I'm not sure what the 2015 season will hold. I have a feeling I'll be splitting time between football and soccer. But I can tell you that I'm actually going to miss football if the boys decide not to do it again.