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Football: A Love Story
August of 2010- Initial Excitement
After finishing my first football practice ever, I ran up to my father with a huge smile on my face. I threw my little water jug and clunky football pads into the trunk and hopped up into the back seat of my dad’s car.
My dad asked me “so how was the first day of football Logan?”
I was waiting for him to ask me that because I wanted to tell him all about it. “It was so much fun, we played sharks and minnows, ran some relay races, had our first day of full contact, and got lots of water breaks” I exclaimed.
My dad laughed softly to himself and responded by saying “that’s awesome buddy, did you practice running any plays?”
I responded by saying “oh yeah, we did that at the start of practice but it was kind of boring.” I loved wearing all of the cool equipment that the NFL players would wear and running around on a real football field with lines and everything. As the time in the car ride passed, all I was doing was imagining myself under the big lights, in a massive stadium, playing on T.V., with an NFL team in the Super Bowl. My used football shoulder pads and helmet gave off a pungent aroma of sweat.
My father picked up on the strong scent and said “man I miss that smell, even though it isn’t the most pleasant smell in the world, it reminds me of some of my favorite memories throughout my childhood.”
I responded with a sharp “well I think it smells like a used bathroom, I don’t like it at all.” I noticed that my dad looked happier than ever sitting in the car with me after my football practice, and I didn’t really understand why. I mean I don’t know how someone could ever be happy driving home their stinky and sweaty child after a hot summer day full of running around. Though the smell of after a practice didn’t make me the happiest, my first day of football made me the happiest I’ve ever been. When we parked the car in the garage, I got out and told my dad “Dad, I can’t wait to go to practice again tomorrow, it’s so much fun!”
My father said “good, I’m happy to hear that Logan.”
Fall of 2012- Personal Resentment
“Man, I’m so happy we finally finished that season of football, it was terrible!” I exclaimed to my father after our final loss of my 7th grade football season.
My dad had a puzzled look on his face, not disappointed, but confused on why I would say that. “Why do you say that son?”
I gave my father a pissed off face and responded “Are you serious? I battled with a broken thumb all season that restricted my playing time, my coach was terrible and all he did was yell, and I was playing on a team with older people so I didn’t know anyone.” I couldn’t be happier that the season was over because I dreaded having to go to practice everyday.
My dad tried to calm me down and put things into perspective by saying “I know this season wasn’t the best experience ever so let’s just wipe the memories and look for next year with some fire in your belly.”
I didn’t buy his optimism one bit “I don’t want to play another season next year, I’m done with this sport, done with the practice, and done with dealing with all of coaches in the program!” I bursted out into tears, overwhelmed with emotions.
My dad was shocked that I hated it so much and said “I thought you loved it, you’ve always loved football, even when you were a little boy.”
I do remember saying that but countered by saying “I know I said that, but once it started getting harder and more serious, my love for it got washed away.” I wasn’t ready to take on the challenge because it only gets harder as you get older, I seriously was considering quitting the sport for good.
“Well son, we will talk about this more but you need to start to get ready for the banquet tonight” my father told me.
When we arrived at the banquet, we had a special guest speaker from the Barrington High School football team. I looked at him with a little bit of jealously but mostly anger asking myself how anyone could make it that far in this terrible sport. He began to talk about his experience with football. I pulled my iPod out of my pocket that I managed to sneak past my father, put the headphones in and didn’t hear a word the speaker was saying.
Fall of 2016- Overall Gratitude
Losing my last game of football ever really put in perspective how much I love this game. After we lost in the playoffs of my senior year, I had a very hard time letting it go. When we got on to the bus for the ride home, I stayed fully suited up, helmet and everything, for the duration of the trip. I wanted to make it last as long as possible to soak in every last moment of my beloved sport. I sat on the bus, restrapping my gloves while I listened to the weeps and moans of my brothers that were also feeling my pain. I moved over to one of my best friends and watched him ball his eyes out. I couldn’t watch him go through that so I said “hey man, I know it’s hard but only one team in Illinois high school football can end their season with tears of happiness. We got unlucky this time but you had an incredible season and high school career, lots to be proud of buddy.”
He looked at me with his swollen and tear filled eyes and responded “I love you man, best friends for life. Thank you for being apart of some of my favorite memories in life, it’s been unforgettable.”
Him saying that really hit me hard, and then we both sat in silence with tears dripping from our faces and onto the cold bus floor. The bus ride seemed like it took forever, but I was okay with it because it meant longer time being spent with my best friends. We arrived back to school and people slowly started to linger out of the busses. The crackle of cleats on concrete was a sound that I would miss deeply. The team all met up in the locker room and myself and the other captains stood up to say a few words. The locker room stayed completely silent, waiting for someone to try and boost the moral. It was my turn to talk and the only words I could get out without choking up were “Broncos for life, it’s been an honor playing with you all and serving you as a captain.”
After the captains finished speaking, we all brought it up for one last break down. “1….2….3…. BRONCOS” we all said in unison and the echo rolled through the locker room like the whole town of Barrington was joining in on it.