May 26, 2008
By Cameron Radis, Palatine, IL

It was a cool, crisp day in the beginning of November. The sophomore football season was going to end today. We had a great season, 8 and 1. It was that time after our last game, after the horn sounded, that meant our season was done. We all gathered around to listen to the final post game speech our coach would give that year. It was sad, after all the hard work our team had put into the season to see it end. At this point, what I didn’t know, was that my sophomore season had ended, but I was about to embark on one of the greatest experiences of my life.

The next day, our coach called a team meeting for after school. We all thought it was a normal “good season guys” talk, but boy were we wrong. I remember the butterflies I had in my stomach when our coach told us that some of the sophomores had been selected to play with the Varsity for state playoffs. I sat there wondering, hoping my name would be called. But in the back of my mind I also had doubt. Was I good enough, fast enough, strong enough, big enough? I don’t know! I was so busy critiquing myself that I missed the coach start to list off the names. “Wright, Terri, Broman” said the coach. There were more names in between but not mine! It was getting near the end, I could tell. Oh no, I’m not going to get chosen. “Joseph, Radis, and Carmody.” Wait; did he just say my name? My heart pounded and I could feel the excitement jolting through my body. I can’t believe they picked me to play with Varsity for the playoffs. The meeting was dismissed and as we walked out there were kids congratulating each other but others who looked embarrassed and sad that they were not chosen. At that point I was just filled with happiness, but reality didn’t set in until the first day of practice when I realized I was one of the smallest kids out there.

It was freezing that first day of playoff practice. I had two long sleeve under armor shirts on and I was still frigid. Me, and the rest of the sophomore defense ran scout team for the offense. Wow, were they big. I remember it was almost a joke trying to tackle Mike Gyetvey or catch up to Andrew Corso on a pass route. We did our best and I guess you can say we “held our own.” The days went by quickly and before I knew it, our first playoff game was just a day away. It was an awesome feeling walking into school on game day wearing my jersey and looking around at all the signs and banners supporting our team. The game was at home so I knew everyone would be there. I was aware that I probably wasn’t going to play but it was still really exciting to be part of an excellent team. That day at school I don’t think I paid attention to anything I learned. My mind was far away daydreaming about the game. The school day went by in a flash and it was 4 o’clock, three hours before game time. The cool thing about Varsity was that we got free, huge meals. We all sat down as a team and ate before the big game. At about 5 we were allowed to go home for an hour before getting ready for the game. I went home and relaxed for 45 minutes before I was picked up by our starting center to go back to Fremd. When we got there and went into the locker room everyone was silent, preparing mentally for the game. There was loud heavy metal music blaring in the background and I remember my teammates putting on eye black perfectly; it was their war paint. Everyone was ready to go, now was the time to get pumped up.

With everyone suited up and their helmets on we marched like an army outside to our pre-game shed where we discussed last minute changes and strategies. The last thing I remember before the game was Coach Sponsel’s pump up speech.
“Men, look into my eyes! Have the look of soldiers going to battle! Fight for each other and fight as one! Look at the person next to you and know that at the end of the night you can look them in the eye and tell them you gave everything you had for them! Men, lay it all out on the field! Lets go to battle!
There was uproar of cheering and grunting as we met in a circle to “get a break” before we lined up number order and headed to the field. “One, two, three,…IRON WILL!!!” the team said in unison. As we came out of the shed I remember hearing the band playing our fight song and the thousands of people in our student section screaming and cheering. We marched closer to the entrance of the field where little kids lined up to receive a high five from one of the players and where the cheerleaders created a tunnel leading to the field. Then, in the next two minutes, I experienced one of the greatest feelings I have ever had in my life.

The sound of bells rang. Dong…Dong…it was the intro to Hells Bells. Then war music rang out over the speaker system. It was from the soundtrack 300. This was our cue. One by one, our players stormed onto the field and now it was my turn. I ran, slow at first, but gradually picking up speed. I was capturing every moment of it. I ran past the kids, the cheerleaders and then through the banner as I began to make the circle around the field. The crowd was going wild. I looked into the stands. There were thousands of people all wearing black yelling and screaming for our team. We circled our field and began our warm ups. The lights beamed down on us and there were hundreds of camera flashes through out the night sky. My part in the game was over, but what I was apart of was one of the greatest experiences ever.

Our playoff run continued two more rounds after that game and I was apart of every second. Though I did not play, I am so glad to have been apart of the 2007 Viking Football team. And I will never forget the memories of my first varsity game.

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