Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ready for some football

Today is my dad’s 80th birthday. Seven hundred miles separate us, so we won’t be celebrating together. But today, my thoughts are with him, and I’m thinking about…football.
It’s almost impossible to talk about my dad without talking about football.
He played in high school and for the Air Force. The football stadium in my hometown is named after him. When it was dedicated several years ago, our family snuck in one afternoon to take photos of him underneath his name which had been painted in bold black and red letters.
My dad didn’t think he deserved the honor. The school and the town did. His family did. He had been a middle school guidance counselor, teacher and coach for decades. He was known by generations of families simply as Coach. He coached many sports including girls’ basketball, but he loved football most of all.
He believed in football. He lived football. He thought football – coached the right way - taught valuable lessons about hard work and team dynamics. He was proud when he got to coach both of my brothers.
He worked every weekend during the high school football season, and when that season was over, followed teams on TV. Sunday afternoon football games on TV were the music of my childhood.
My dad followed football at all levels - high school, college and the pros - even when he retired from coaching. He knew – and still knows - every player from his home state who went on to college fame and those who went further, to the pros. After he transitioned from coaching to the athletic director position at his school, he still lived for football, offering his experience whenever it was requested. After he retired, he still lived for football, teaching coaching classes at a community college.
In retirement, it was the football he missed the most. He still attended high school games in his hometown, but he had to sit in the stadium beneath his name instead of standing on the sideline, closer to the action.
When my brother became a football coach in a small town about an hour from my parents’, a new football ritual was started; a priceless gift for my dad. For several years, my parents have traveled every Friday night to cheer on their new adopted team. After each game, my dad, not my brother, calls to give me a report.
My brother has started a new season with a young team – all his starters were seniors last year, my dad reports. “It’s going to be tough, a building season,” he tells me. “But they look pretty good.”
So do you, Dad. So do you.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice piece Deb!, you should be proud of your Dad(and your writing).C.