Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Making of a Football Team

With around 5 seconds left in the game, on about the 5 yard line, behind by three points, the Bayard's Tiger’s opponents had the ball. After completing a long pass they were in control of the adrenaline factor. Like their teammates on the sideline they couldn’t stand still, and they jumped up and down and all around.

They were about to pull off one of the most exciting things in sports; a win as the time-clock ticks off the final seconds of the game.

On the other side of the ball, with the shadow of their opponent’s goalposts looming close behind them, the Tiger’s tail drooped and dragged in the grass. Heads bowed as they stood with their hands on their hips. They’d played their hearts out. They’d grabbed the lead in the first half and, doggedly, held on to it for the entire game. Only 5 seconds, one play, stood between them and their first win of the year.

A timeout.

While one team bounced to their sideline to discuss the winning play, the Tiger’s looked at their coach for a miracle. 

An official blew his whistle and the two teams lined up for the games last play.

With sugar-coated touchdowns dancing through his head, the opposing quarterback confidently barked-out the count. Taking three or four steps back he cocked his arm and unleashed a leather bullet aimed at his receiver’s outstretched arms, but the ball missed its well-choreographed target.

Incomplete pass, ballgame over, the Bayard Tigers win. Suddenly the scene on the field flips scenarios. The Tiger’s tails swish back-and-forth in victory arcs, while their opponents realize their dreams were but hallucinations.

In Tiger-land, an upright and dynamic #1 replaced the emptiness of the 0 in the win column.

This is how teams are made. Teammates remember these feelings, the bonding, the ecstasy, the elation, and the relief. Yes, discouragement may bond, but elation binds that bond and propels student athletes forward as one team.

Way to go guys, now that you’ve experienced the feeling you know what it takes.

That was on a Friday night, and, along with parents and other grandparents, I was at the Carpenter Center, in Scottsbluff, Saturday morning to watch a 5th grade football game. It didn’t have the precision, or drama, of an under-the-lights game, but it was the forerunner of teamwork that will shine under the lights in a few years.

Muscles will then fill the uniforms, helmets won’t wobble as much, and shoe sizes may be more consistent from year-to-year. Nevertheless, the rags-to-riches, or vice-versa, phenomenon of sports will continue. These boys are getting a glimpse of what’s in store, but, for now, they’re learning the basics of teamwork.

For many of them, they will carry some memory of some sports experience their entire lives. They may show their grandchildren their picture in the sports section of a high school annual, or maybe an ancient article from their hometown newspaper, or simply relate game experiences.

No one’s around to contradict Grandpa’s story.

But, no matter what the sports story is, it will be part of a team effort, and teamwork is a propellant for a myriad of life’s experiences. Enjoy your place on whatever team your life is part of.



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